October 22, 2017

An average of 15 million babies are born prematurely every year; if the mother has periodontitis, the likelihood of a premature birth can drastically increase. Premature babies are defined as those who are born anytime before the 37-week mark. The mother’s periodontitis and preterm labor create factors that can severely inhibit the developmental health of the newborn. This is why dentist appointments are crucial for expecting women.

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease where enough bacteria has built up around the gum line to threaten the stability of both gum and bone tissue. This can lead to bone loss, gum loss, or missing teeth. In pregnant women, symptoms include vulnerability to gum disease and early labor. The milder form of gum disease, or gingivitis, can be treated if the symptoms are caught quickly; however, periodontitis is not temporary and the results can be permanent and damaging.

Avoid Preterm Labor with a Healthy Mouth

The bacteria that cause gum disease can cause multiple symptoms that can damage the health of both mother and baby. Symptoms include bone loss, tooth loss, and early labor. Early labor can occur because the oral bacteria may enter the mother’s bloodstream. As the bacteria colonize and move throughout the body, substances are formed that may thin and dilate the cervix, cause uterine contractions and eventually send the body into labor. Not only does the bacteria enter the bloodstream and potentially reach the baby, but it may also send the sign to the uterus that it is time to deliver the baby.

Pregnancy can cause a temporary hormonal imbalance; because of this, the pregnant woman may experience inflamed or swollen gums. This tissue is more susceptible to bacteria that could cause periodontitis. To protect the health of the mother and her baby, regular cleanings and routine care are imperative.

What You Can Do

Gum disease in pregnant women can be triggered through smoking, drinking, or factors out of one’s control, such as hormonal imbalance. Brushing and flossing are the most effective ways of avoiding gum disease at home, as this clears away the bacteria that could build up on the teeth and gums. It is recommended to brush twice a day and floss once for best results. Foods that are high in Vitamins C and A are known to combat infection and strengthen bone.

While brushing and flossing are crucial to the daily routine, the most important step in preventing gum disease is visiting a dental professional. A dentist can remove plaque and other bacteria out of the oral corners that a toothbrush cannot reach at home. Schedule regular appointments with Dr. Van Horn at Southern Smiles Dental PC for a cleaning and check-up to treat gum disease in Oklahoma City, OK.



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