Pregnancy and Your Child’s Teeth
Despite not being able to see your child’s teeth at birth, they’ve been developing since the sixth week of pregnancy. Below we’ve detailed some tips that will help your child’s teeth develop properly before they’re born.
Taking Care of Yourself Helps
It’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s teeth and oral health. Like everything else having to do with your baby’s development before birth, much depends on how well you take care of yourself during pregnancy. Developing teeth have nutritional needs to grow properly, and if you don’t get them through your diet, your baby won’t get enough either. Furthermore, you’ll also have to watch your intake of harmful substances, like antibiotics, that could harm teeth while in utero.
Eat Right to Build Strong Teeth
Calcium, a mineral, is the main component of teeth. If there is not enough calcium coming from your diet to support fetal development, your body will take this mineral from your bones (but not your teeth) and use it to meet your developing baby’s needs. Good for your baby, not so good for you. The best sources of dietary calcium are dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium can also be found in broccoli and kale.
Phosphorous, another mineral, also accounts for the hardness of teeth. It is found in every cell in the body, and also in many foods — especially high protein foods such as meat, milk, and cereals. Of all the nutrients your baby’s teeth need, this is the easiest to introduce.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium. Very few foods naturally contain it — oily fish like salmon and tuna are exceptions; that’s why it is added to milk or other beverages and foods (check labels to find out which ones). It is also produced naturally in the body when the skin is directly exposed to sunlight. Concerns about the negative effects of sun exposure may prevent you from getting all the vitamin D your body requires this way, so you may be advised to supplement.
Protein is the most abundant substance in your body after water. It is responsible for building, maintaining, and replacing the body’s tissues. Interestingly, it is the action of a single protein that causes calcium-phosphate crystals to form tooth enamel rather than bone. All proteins are made of amino acids, but some amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must come from outside sources. Meats and dairy products are the most protein-rich. It is possible to get all the different proteins your body requires with a vegetarian diet, but you will need to pay closer attention to what combinations of foods will provide all the essential amino acids.
If you feel your diet is inadequate in some nutrients during your pregnancy, it’s best to seek professional medical advice on what supplements you may need. While it’s unlikely you will ever receive too much of any given nutrient from your diet, you can overdo certain vitamins and minerals in pill form. Please feel free to talk to us about any concerns or questions you may have — especially at this important time in your life.