Posted May 27, 2011
Pregnant women are usually concerned about maintaining good health by following a nutritious diet, taking prenatal vitamins and staying active. Unfortunately, they may not be aware of the importance of investing time in taking good care of their teeth to protect the health of their babies.
If good oral health habits are not maintained during pregnancy, such as regular brushing after meals and flossing daily, plaque can develop on the teeth, which may lead to inflamed gums and periodontal disease. Research has shown 18 percent of some 250,000 cases of premature, low-weight infants born in the U.S. each year may be attributed to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease, which affects more than 23 percent of women between ages 30 and 54, also can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. The disease causes a bacterial infection that can enter the bloodstream and result in a systemic inflammatory response and/or ectopic infections. 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 or are red, swollen or tender
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Loose teeth
Recommendations for Prevention and Treatment:
- Women who are pregnant should practice good oral health habits every single day; brush teeth after meals and floss
- Schedule regular appointments for dental checkups and cleaning
- New research indicates that using alcohol-free antibacterial mouth-rinse also may decrease risks of preterm births
- If periodontal disease is discovered, treatment options may range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to medications to surgery that restores supportive tissues
If you are pregnant, are you aware of the risks of periodontal disease? Do you practice good daily oral health habits? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group