The Risks of Periodontal Disease for Pregnant Women

The Risks of Periodontal Disease for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women understand the need to maintain a healthy diet to help their babies develop and grow. While it is important for expectant moms to eat nutritious foods, it is also imperative that they take good care of their teeth.

A woman’s oral health can contribute to the healthiness of her newborn. If good oral health habits are not maintained during pregnancy, such as regular brushing and flossing after meals, plaque can develop on the teeth, which may lead to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease affects more than 23 percent of women between ages 30 and 54. The condition creates a bacterial infection that can enter the bloodstream and induce pregnancy complications, such as systemic inflammatory responses and/or ectopic infections.

The Impact of Periodontal Disease

  • Pregnant women with severe periodontal disease are at higher risk for delivering preterm babies with low birth weights.
  • Approximately 18 percent of the 250,000 cases of premature low-weight infants born in the U.S. each year may be attributed to periodontal disease.
  • Pregnant women with periodontal disease are up to 7.5 times more likely to have a pregnancy complication than those who are disease-free.

Periodontal Disease Warning Signs

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Loose teeth

Recommendations for Treatment

  • Women who are pregnant should practice good oral health habits, including brushing and flossing teeth daily, schedule an appointment for a dental checkup and cleaning, and eat balanced, nutritious meals.
  • If periodontal disease is discovered, treatment options may range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.

Are you expecting? Are you aware of the risks of periodontal disease? Do you know of a pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with periodontal disease? Let me know and I’ll gather your comments for a future blog. –Karen

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