Premature Births and Gum Disease

Now that you are pregnant you need to take evenbetter care of your teeth and gums. Not only for your health, butalso for the health of your baby. During pregnancy you willexperience significant changes, including changes in your oralhealth “pregnancy gingivitis” is a condition thatcommonly occurs in the second or third month of pregnancy and canbecome more severe up through the eighth month.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancycause a greater reaction of dental plaque, resulting in anincreased amount of swelling, bleeding and redness of the gums.This condition has not previously been cause for serious medicalconcern, possibly due to the belief that the gum disease wouldsubside following baby’s delivery. However, there now is anotherreason for pregnant women to pay more attention to their oralhealth.

How does this affect your baby?

New research suggests a link between gum disease in pregnant womenand premature low birth weight babies. Conducted by researchers atthe University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, this recentstudy suggests that every year as many as 45,500 premature birthsmay be linked to gum disease. That’s 18% of the 250,000 prematurebabies born every year, which is more than those attributed tosmoking and alcohol use combined.

What the research shows:

The bacteria P. gingivalis is known to be the primary cause of guminfection. This organism can travel via your blood stream to sitesfar from the mouth, even to the uterus. P. gingivalis carriessubstances that can trigger the production of chemicals called”prostaglandins” in the reproductive tract. Theseprostaglandins are suspected to induce premature labor, resultingin low birth weight babies.

What can you do?

Since your oral health has implications that directly affect yourpregnancy, it is extremely important to pay close attention to thesigns of gum disease. Dental professionals recommend having morefrequent dental cleanings. It is also important to maintain aproper daily oral care routine, including brushing and flossing.If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occur at any time duringyour pregnancy, see your dentist or dental hygienist immediately.

What to share with your Dental Professional:

Is your pregnancy high risk?

In which month of pregnancy are you?

Have you noticed any changes in your oral health?

Are you taking any medications?

Have you noticed inflammation, swelling, redness or bleeding?

Have you noticed any loose teeth?

Concern for your total health including oralcare is critical to your unborn baby’s development. Earlyidentification of oral health problems such as gum disease mayhelp reduce the risk of premature labor.

For more information on the possible linkbetween your periodontal health and premature labor, pleasecontact your dentist, dental hygienist, OB/GYN or childbirthinstructor.


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