Oral health plays an important role in overall health. It even affects the health of a pregnant mother and her unborn child.
Periodontal (gum) disease has been associated with greater risk for having a low birth weight or pre-term baby. In addition, a recent study says pregnant women with gum disease might be more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Treating the gum disease can help the health of the mother and baby.
During pregnancy, a mother’s progesterone hormone levels fluctuate. This can irritate gums already battling plaque buildup. Gingivitis is especially common during the second through eighth months of pregnancy. It can cause gums to be red, puffy or tender and bleed when brushed.
If you’re planning a pregnancy, schedule a dental checkup for a cleaning. If you’re pregnant, continue to visit your dentist often as more frequent cleanings during the second or early third trimester may be recommended to help you avoid problems. Be sure to inform your dentist if you are or suspect you might be pregnant.
It’s also important to brush and floss daily with fluoride toothpaste and eat a well-balanced diet. Look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on oral health care products to verify their safety and effectiveness.
Good oral health habits are not only vital during pregnancy, but after pregnancy as well, because cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from mother to child through contact such as sharing utensils or kissing.