Moms-to-be are instructed to see their doctor regularly, to stop drinking alcohol and using certain medications, to quit smoking, to perhaps take folic acid and overall to try to stay healthy. As oral health experts, we know that good oral hygiene should be added to the top of this “to do” list. Research shows that periodontal disease (severe gum disease) in expectant mothers could result in pregnancy complications such as premature birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia, an issue characterized by high blood pressure.
In a recent article published in Journal of Dentistry, researchers emphasized the relationship between women with poor oral health and their unborn children. The report, a meta-analysis of 20 different studies, concluded that 40% of pregnant women experience gum disease which can result in preterm birth and/or low birth weight. It’s thought that the hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause more inflammation, which can result in severe gingivitis. Bleeding gums as well as probing depth was found to increase throughout pregnancy.
CDC Discusses Progress of Gum Disease During Pregnancy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the possible phenomenon like this:
“Nearly 60-75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease that occurs when the gums become red and swollen from inflammation that may be aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy. If gingivitis is not treated, the bone that supports the teeth can be lost, and the gums can become infected. Teeth with little bone support can become loose and may eventually have to be extracted. Periodontitis has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.”
Pregnant women have enough to think about without having to worry about possible birth issues due to poor oral health. Improved home hygiene and using anti-gingivitis mouthwash and toothpaste may help reduce your risk of developing severe gum disease.
If you are pregnant or planning on starting a family and you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, including sore, red gums, persistent bad breath, or sensitive teeth, see your dentist! You can also make an appointment with one of our periodontal (gum) experts at South Florida Center for Periodontics & Implant Dentistry. Referrals are not necessary.