Every expectant mother should know how her dental health can affect the well-being of the unborn baby. Following are some information and guidelines to help you maintain good oral health during your pregnancy.

What should I expect in my oral health when I’m pregnant?

Now that you’re pregnant, you need to take even better care of your teeth and gums, not only for the sake of your own health, but for the health of your baby. You may experience significant changes, including changes in your oral health, during pregnancy.

For example, “pregnancy gingivitis” is a condition that’s caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy that cause a greater reaction to dental plaque, and this can result in an increased amount of swelling, bleeding, and/or redness of the gums. The condition commonly occurs in the second or third month of pregnancy and can become more severe up through the eighth month.

This condition has not previously been cause for serious medical concern due to the belief that the gum disease would subside following baby’s delivery. Now, however, research suggesting a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature low birth weight babies is a reason for pregnant women to pay more attention to their prenatal oral health.

How can gum disease affect my baby?

New evidence suggests a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature low birth weight babies. Conducted by researchers at the UNC School of Dentistry, a recent study indicates that as many as 45,500 premature births every year may be linked to gum disease. That’s 19% of the 250,000 premature babies born each year, more than is attributed to smoking and alcohol use combined.

What does the research show about a mother’s oral health and a baby’s birth weight?

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, carrying substances that can trigger the production of chemicals called “prostaglandins” in the productive tract. These prostaglandins are suspected to induce premature labor, and can result in babies having a low birth weight.

What can I do to avoid this condition during pregnancy?

Since your oral health has implications that directly affect your pregnancy, it’s extremely important to pay close attention to the signs of gum disease that may be developing during your term. Dental professionals recommend having more frequent dental cleanings while pregnant, and it’s also vital to maintain a proper daily oral care routine, including regular brushing and flossing. If tenderness, bleeding, or gum swelling occur at any time during your pregnancy, you should see your general dentist or dental hygienist immediately.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dental health during pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (704) 377-3687. We look forward to assisting you.