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A child’s dental health starts during pregnancy

2/10/2020, 4:03 p.m.
Will County CHC (Community Health Center) Dental Director Dr. Sangita Garg says a child’s oral health begins during pregnancy, and ...

Will County CHC (Community Health Center) Dental Director Dr. Sangita Garg says a child’s oral health begins during pregnancy, and the first step is to cast aside an old wives’ tale. “A common belief used to be that a woman will lose a tooth for every pregnancy. With proper oral health, including brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice daily, flossing once daily, and semi-annual professional cleanings, there is no reason for that to happen.”

But why would it happen without proper oral health? Dr. Garg says that with all the hormonal changes that occur, pregnant women are at a higher risk for gingivitis (an inflammation of the gums due to plaque and bacteria). “The best thing to remember while pregnant is that you are brushing your teeth for two people. Proper oral health habits prevent bacteria from staying in your body, and then being passed on to your baby.”

Dr. Garg says once the child is born, proper oral health and dental visits need to be practiced at the eruption of the first tooth, which can be between six months and one year of age. “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says 16.9% of children age five to 19 have untreated dental problems. And as much as 20 percent of children in this country have not had preventive dental care. Tooth decay is preventable.”