Home dental care for an expectant family Pregnancy is a convenient time for the whole family to adopt new habits and routines to provide the best possible basis for the child’s development and growth. Habits acquired in childhood have been shown to have the strongest effect on the choices we make through life, including dietary choices. A mother’s balanced diet also benefits her child’s developing teeth. The whole family should to get used to regular meal times and avoid unnecessary snacks already during pregnancy. Water is the best thirst-quencher. Parents should undergo a dental check-up before the birth of the child. Dental care at a health centre is free of charge only for children under the age of 18. Private dental care is subject to compensation from KELA. During pregnancy, changes in your mouth may occur. Pregnancy itself does not cause inflammation of the gums but an existing inflammation may become worse. Inflammation can be treated by cleaning your mouth and teeth thoroughly at home and at a dental clinic. Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush using fluoride toothpaste twice a day. In addition, use dental floss or toothpicks regularly. Inflammation of the gums usually heals once hormonal balances are once again restored. Pregnancy does not cause cavities, but frequent snacking may cause cavities. If you have to eat often due to nausea, try to return to a regular meal rhythm as soon as possible. Cavities are not hereditary, but they are contagious. Many adults carry a large amount of cavity-causing streptococcus mutans bacteria in their mouth. This may be transmitted to a baby’s mouth through saliva when the baby teeth start to grow in. It is crucial to try to avoid this kind of infection. Daily use of xylitol reduces the amount of bacteria in the mouth and the baby’s risk of infection. This risk will naturally be reduced when the child’s first set of teeth has grown in. The best nutrition for a baby is breast milk. Breastfeeding protects the newborn against illnesses and contributes to the development of a correct dental occlusion. Try to reduce feeding during the night after the first teeth come in because the lactose in milk can cause cavities. If the baby needs a pacifier/dummy, it is best to limit its use to falling asleep and temporary soothing only.