What Every Expectant Mother Should Know
How your dental health can affect the well-being of your unborn baby
What to expect in your oral health when you are pregnant:
Now that you are pregnant you need to take even better care of your teeth and gums. We are not only concerned for your health, but for the health of your baby. During pregnancy you may experience significant changes, including changes in your oral health. “Pregnancy gingivitis” is a condition that commonly occurs in the second or third month of pregnancy and can become more severe up through the eighth month.
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy cause a greater reaction to dental plaque, resulting in an increased amount of swelling, bleeding and redness of the gums. This condition has not previously been cause for serious medical concern, possibly due to the belief that the gum disease would subside following baby’s delivery.
However, there now is another reason for pregnant women to pay more attention to their oral health.
How does this affect your baby?
There is new research suggesting a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature low birth weight babies. Conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, this recent study suggests that every year as many as 45,500 premature births may be linked to gum disease. That’s 19% of the 250,000 premature babies born every year, which is more than attributed to smoking and alcohol use combined.
What the research shows:
The bacteria P. gingivalis is known to be the primary cause of gum infection. This organism can travel via your blood stream to sites far from the mouth, even to the uterus. P. gingivalis carries substances that can trigger the production of chemicals called “prostaglandins” in the productive tract. These prostaglandins are suspected to induce premature labor, resulting in low birth weight babies.
What can you do?
Since your oral health has implications that directly affect your pregnancy, it is extremely important to pay close attention to the signs of gum disease. Dental professionals recommend having more frequent dental cleanings. It is also important to maintain a proper daily oral care routine, including brushing and flossing.
If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occur at any time during your pregnancy, see your general dentist or dental hygienist immediately.