Gum Disease and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation and happiness. Whether you are pregnant with your first baby or your fifth, the excitement is contagious for the birth of your upcoming bundle of joy. As the weeks and month go by, a woman’s body undergoes a great many changes to accommodate her growing baby and to prepare for giving birth. Weight gain, an increased amount of blood supply, and hormonal fluctuations are some of the most significant of these changes, and given that these changes occur in just nine months – pregnancy truly is a miracle.

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One of these changes is often overlooked in terms of oral health, yet it can pose an extreme risk to the mother and her unborn baby. The huge fluctuations in hormone levels over such a short span of time increase the risk of an expectant mother to develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, or severe gum disease, is a serious oral health concern whether a person is pregnant or not. It can lead to irreversible damage and tooth loss. Yet, for pregnant women, periodontal disease can also pose life threatening consequences to both the mother and growing baby.

Oral bacteria occur every day inside the mouth, reaching quantities in the millions. These bacteria mean to be helpful to your teeth by breaking down tiny particles left behind after eating and drinking anything other than water. However, as the bacteria work to “clean” your teeth, they begin producing acids to help their jobs go faster. It is this acid production that causes damage to the teeth and gum tissues. With pregnant women, hormonal fluctuations cause the gums to become more sensitive to bacteria and more susceptible to infection. Any signs of red, swollen, or tender gums need to be brought to your dentist’s attention during pregnancy because of the adverse effects gum disease can have on a pregnant mother and her growing baby. Research has proven direct links between gum disease during pregnancy and miscarriage, preterm labor, and low birthweight babies. The excessive amounts of bacteria inside the mouth combined with sensitive gum tissues easily allow infection to pass through the blood stream from the mouth throughout the entire body. If an infection in the blood stream reaches the uterus, the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins is triggered causing contraction and inducing labor.

Your oral health is always important, yet if you are pregnant your oral health is important to someone other than just yourself. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, please contact Riverheart Family Dentistry today to schedule an appointment. We care about your complete oral health and your growing baby.