As a mom of two sons, I remember being pregnant all too well! Like all moms-to-be, I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed at how much there was to monitor to ensure a healthy baby. If you are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, let me add one, very important item to your list: Maintain excellent oral health throughout your pregnancy, for yourself and your baby. Here’s why…
Pregnant women have elevated hormone levels that create a higher vulnerability to gum disease. This is why almost half of pregnant females will experience swollen, red and tender gums that bleed while brushing. The cause is a form of gum disease known as Pregnancy Gingivitis. Since pregnancy hormones make the gums more susceptible to inflammation, they simply are more sensitive to the oral bacteria of periodontal disease.
It is estimated that about a third of all pregnant women have gum disease. However, the damage from oral bacteria extends far beyond the mom-to-be’s mouth. Studies have shown that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies. Gum disease also increases the risk for poor obstetrical outcomes, late miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. For example, the preterm birth rate for women without periodontal disease is approximately 11% compared to nearly 29% for females with moderate to severe gum disease.
It is believed that the risk happens through the entry of oral bacteria to the bloodstream, which occurs through tears in diseased gum tissues. Once this bacteria reaches placental membranes, it can trigger inflammation that can cause preeclampsia or labor.
The links between the oral health of the mother and babies prior to birth is becoming more profound as research continues. One study found that that blood from pregnant women who had higher levels of antibodies to oral bacteria also had higher incidences of preterm birth and low birth weight babies. These same elevated antibodies have been found in amniotic fluid and in fetal cord blood samples of infants delivered preterm or of low birth weight.
Fortunately, studies also show that treating periodontal disease reduces the risk of preterm births. This is why a growing number of obstetricians are advising pregnant patients to have a complete oral examination to determine signs of periodontal disease. If it does exist, the mom-to-be can be given the appropriate treatment to restore her to good oral health. It is also important to note that gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss and has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis.
Our periodontal therapy is safe for pregnant women, as well as all patients. With a healthy mouth, you’ll give your baby an added advantage for a healthy beginning while ensuring your smile is in good shape.
Begin with a free consultation by calling 1-866-9-Smiles. However, if you’ve noticed gum disease symptoms, such as bleeding when brushing, tender gums or gums that are red in color, call promptly for an examination. Gum disease only worsens when treatment is delayed.