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Why Moms-To-Be Need Healthy A Smile.

With pregnancy comes a long list of precautions. In order to increase the potential to give birth to a healthy baby, today’s mom-to-be now adheres to dietary restrictions, abstinence of alcohol and smoking as well as avoiding many medications.

Based on research, more and more obstetricians are making their pregnant patients aware of one more. Studies have shown it is important for pregnant women to maintain good oral health – for their own health and the health of their unborn babies. Adverse outcomes such a early delivery and babies born at low birth weight have been attributed to periodontal (gum) disease.

An article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)62726-4/pdf) states:

“studies indicate that periodontal infection can lead to placental-fetal exposure and, when coupled with a fetal inflammatory response, can lead to preterm delivery.”

An estimated one-third of all women develop gum disease during pregnancy. The problem becomes a seriously new risk once the infectious bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream. Studies show that gum disease increases the risk for pre-term delivery (before 37 weeks) and babies of low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds). Additionally, gum disease raises the potential for late miscarriage and pre-eclampsia.

In a 2014 Child Health USA report (https://mchb.hrsa.gov/chusa14/health-status-behaviors/infants/preterm-birth-low-birth-weight.html), “complications of preterm birth or low birth weight include respiratory distress, jaundice, anemia, and infection. Long-term complications can include learning and behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, lung problems, and vision and hearing loss.”

They go on to state: “preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes of infant death and childhood disability. Babies who are born the earliest and smallest have the highest risks of morbidity and mortality, having 89 and 110 times the risk of dying in the first year of life as their full-term and non-low birth weight counterparts, respectively.”

The process is set into motion once the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream (typically through tears in diseased gum tissues), which can trigger inflammation in the placental membranes. The association is measurable. For females who have normal periodontal health, the preterm birth rate is approximately 11 percent. Compare this to the preterm birth rate of nearly 29 percent for females who have moderate to severe levels of the disease.

Elevated hormones in pregnant women cause nearly half to experience swollen, red and sore gums that bleed when brushing. These hormonal levels also increase the risk for Pregnancy Gingivitis, a type of gum disease. Since pregnancy hormones make gum tissues more susceptible to inflammation, they are also more vulnerable to the oral bacteria of periodontal disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include tender gums that bleed when brushing, gums that turn from a healthy pink color to red, and persistent bad breath. Eventually, gums recede from teeth and pus pockets form. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms (whether you or pregnant or not), prompt treatment is recommended. Untreated gum disease will continue to worsen, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Studies show that successfully treating periodontal disease lowers the risk of preterm births. We provide treatment for nearly all stages of gum disease that is safe for pregnant women. Give your baby a healthy beginning by ensuring your oral health is at its best. If you’re pregnant or wanting to become so, start by scheduling a thorough examination. Or, begin with a no-charge consultation. I’ll gladly answer your questions and discuss treatment options. Call 219-987-5733.