January 13, 2012

The Link Between Good Oral Health and Pregnancy

We all know it’s important to maintain good dental hygiene, but let’s be honest: nobody actually likes going to the dentist. Although the polished feeling across your teeth following a cleaning can’t be beat, dental health is something most of us tend to put off.

But it turns out pregnant women tend to put it off even more. Misconception, discomfort, and general fear are probably the most common reasons for this neglect, but it’s especially important pregnant women maintain good oral health because there is a link between oral health and pregnancy.

60-75% of all pregnant women are affected by inflammation of the gums.

As we all know, the hormonal changes brought on during healthy pregnancy can have all sorts of effects on the expectant mother. In terms of dental health, however, the effects are particularly important to monitor. According to the American Dental Association, 60-75% of all pregnant women are affected by inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis. Because of its direct relationship to the increase in hormones, as well as changes in diet and eating habits associated with pregnancy, this condition is sometimes called “pregnancy gingivitis.”

But if gingivitis is allowed to worsen, it can become periodontitis, a serious gum disease that studies suggest is associated with preterm low birth weight. Mothers with poor oral health risk passing cavity-causing bacteria to their babies.

Pregnancy and dental health linked.

What can you do for your oral health to help ensure a healthy pregnancy?

So, soon-to-be-mommy, what can you do for your dental health that will help ensure a healthy pregnancy?

  • Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive oral evaluation and risk assessment, making sure to inform your dentist if you’re pregnant or think you’re pregnant. Most non-emergency dental procedures can be conducted during pregnancy, and your dentist may recommend extra cleanings during the second and early third terms of pregnancy to help control gingivitis.
  • Limit your number of between-meal sugary snacks. While this might be a challenge, it’s important to remember gum disease is always lurking.
  • Brush and floss regularly as you always do, right?

Understanding the link between dental health and healthy pregnancy is essential. Practice good dental hygiene and your kids will thank you!

What tips do you have for staying on top of your oral health during a pregnancy? Share your experience a comment below!

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