Your Oral Health and Your Unborn Child
Recent research suggests that serious gum disease, called periodontitis, can cause your baby to be born too early (premature birth) and too small. For a long time we’ve known that many risk factors contribute to mothers having premature, low birth weight babies—smoking, alcohol use, drug use and infections.
Now mounting evidence suggests a new risk factor—periodontal disease. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more like to have a baby that is premature. Premature birth can lead to some serious consequences for the baby.
Normal pregnancy can affect your gums causing swelling, inflammation or bleeding due to pregnancy hormones. This is called pregnancy gingivitis. It often begins in the second or third month of pregnancy and increases in severity throughout the eighth month, so it’s a good idea to have your teeth checked and cleaned regularly. You should make an appointment with your dentist at least once during the nine months. If you can afford to do so, visit the dentist once each trimester.
- You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, (especially near your gum line) and:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and after meals when possible.
- Floss daily
- If you suffer from morning sickness, repeatedly rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acid caused by vomiting, wait half an hour, then brush your teeth.
- If brushing your teeth causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water, brush without toothpaste and follow with anti-plaque fluoride mouthwash.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of vitamin C and B12.
- See your dentist for help in controlling plaque and preventing gingivitis. Also schedule routine exams and cleaning to maintain good dental health.