Your baby's dental health and prenatal nutrition

I heard that calcium may be lost from teeth during pregnancy. Should I take a vitamin supplements to make sure my unborn child has strong teeth?

Question:

I am encouraged you are concerned about dental health issues during pregnancy. What you eat during your pregnancy will affect the development of your unborn child's teeth. Nutrients including protein, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and calcium are particularly important when it comes to building healthy teeth. In fact, poor maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy and lactation may result in low breast milk vitamin D. This can adversely affect infant tooth enamel formation (Specker 1994).

There is no scientific data to suggest that calcium is lost from a mother's teeth during pregnancy. I am not sure how this falsehood originated but it has been perpetuated so often that many people incorrectly accept it as fact.

The calcium your baby requires is provided by eating a balanced diet, not by your teeth. At least three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day should provide an adequate source of calcium. However, if you become deficient in dietary calcium, your body can sacrifice some of this mineral from your bones. This unhealthy situation may lead to other problems. Your obstetrician may recommend supplements to guarantee that you receive plenty of calcium during your pregnancy.

Do not neglect your own teeth during your pregnancy. Hormonal changes alter the oral environment and render your teeth more susceptible to decay. Many women increase snacking during pregnancy. While this is normal, the frequency of snacking influences tooth decay. Be sure to brush and floss after every meal and snack.

Reference:

Specker, "Do North American women need supplemental vitamin D during pregnancy or lactation?" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 59(2):484S-491S.

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