Healthy Teeth and Gums Equals a Healthy Pregnancy

Do you think your pregnancy can affect the health of your teeth and gums? I never even thought of it during my pregnancies, but back in the ’70s there wasn’t as much emphasis as there is today. It’s true. Women’s mouths show evidence of changes when pregnant, thus dental exams and care can keep you and the baby healthy. So, while you’re getting together your list of things to do, it’s best to include a dental check-up right at the beginning of your pregnancy. Dental health is important in every stage of life and pregnancy is not an exception.

The teeth and gums during pregnancy

We have all heard about plaque that forms on the teeth. It’s a colorless film, somewhat tacky that forms on the enamel’s surface. Well, there is a bacterium in plaque. Hormonal changes during pregnancy means a small amount of plaque can easily turn into gingivitis causing inflamed gums. The symptoms include swollen, tender and/or bleeding gums and pain. Over 50-percent of women during pregnancy experience gingivitis during this period, according to an article by The Academy of Peridontology. [1]

Can gingivitis turn into an infection?

You can get a bacterial infection of the gum tissue called periodontitis. Remember the gums are important as they encompass and support your teeth. Gingivitis can be treated and the disease reversed with good hygiene. If you leave this disorder untreated tooth and bone loss can arise.

Signs to look for in periodontitis: [2]

Gums that are puffy, swollen or receding
Painful gums Seeing blood when you brush your teeth Feeling loose teeth in an adult’s mouth
Bad breath which is not from food or doesn’t go away after brushing the teeth Pus that is leaking from the teeth and gums

The link between periodontal disease and pre-term delivery

There has been a link in research that shows a relationship between periodontal disease and premature, low-birthweight babies. Women who have this disease are more likely to deliver prematurely. Inflammatory response to infections (oral or systemic) triggers production of prostaglandin. Women with severe periodontal disease show high levels of prostaglandin, which could be the factor in early deliveries. Premature births are a chief obstetric problem in the United States. Babies who survive early deliveries and low birthweight can be consumed with many health problems in their development.

Also, babies who are born to mothers who have tooth decay and infection had a higher risk of developing decay factors compared to mothers with healthy teeth and gums. So, the bottom line is that pregnant women visit a dentist during their pregnancy for cleanings. And if you are planning a pregnancy in the near future, make sure to schedule a dental appointment for x-rays (when it’s safe), an evaluation and cleaning before the happy event.

My mantra has been to brush my teeth at least twice a day, floss and keep up my dental visits. Periodontitis does not cause symptoms initially, so it’s important to have regular checkups before the symptoms even start. You’ll be happy you did!


American Academy of Periodontology: Recommendations for a Healthy Pregnancy and On-Time Delivery [1]

University of Maryland Medical Center: Periodontal Disease Symptoms [2]

Teeth and Pregnancy

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