MARQUETTE — It is important for an expectant mother to know that a lifetime of good oral health for their child begins during pregnancy.

Women who become pregnant are encouraged to tell their dentist they are expecting so they can plan appropriate treatment. There are many things mothers can do to maintain dental health and avoid spreading oral bacteria to their new or soon–to–be born babies.

“Expectant mothers should really be taking care of their teeth during pregnancy. This is an important time to get in and see the dentist right at the beginning of the pregnancy. Brushing and flossing, eating nutritious foods, visiting your dentist — those can all help benefit you and your child when the child is born,” said Rebecca Maino, Project Coordinator for U.P. Wide Smiles.

“Pregnant women should aim for about four servings of calcium per day, about a thousand milligrams,” said Marquette County Health Department WIC Coordinator Laura Gauthier. “A serving of calcium includes a cup of milk, eight ounces of yogurt, an ounce of cheese. Canned salmon is also a really good source of calcium.”

Fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy can also exaggerate the way the gums react to plaque. Other side effects of pregnancy — such as nausea — can also have an adverse affect on an expectant mother’s oral health.

“If they’re vomiting, it’s a real good idea for them to take about a teaspoon of baking soda in water, mix that up good, and just rinse their mouths out so the acid won’t destroy the enamel in their mouth,” Maino added.

Once a baby is born, continued dental hygiene for both parents and children is important. As soon as a baby gets its first teeth, tooth decay can begin.