Gum Disease & Birth Defects
What is Gum Disease?
The short answer: Gum disease is a common gum infection that can become very problematic, but you can prevent it!
The long answer: All over your body, tissues have a self-defense mechanism called “inflammation.” When bacteria build up in your mouth, your gum tissue will inflame to try and kill it. Inflammation of your gums is called gingivitis. Gingivitis looks like red, soft, and sore gum tissue.
Over time, gingivitis can lead to more troublesome gum disease (called periodontitis) that can grow even deeper and start to harm the bones of your teeth and jaw. Severe gum disease can wreak havoc in your mouth. Pregnant women need to be especially careful because gum disease is linked with pre-term births and babies with low birth weight.
Every mom and mom-to-be wants the best start for their little one, and their journey into parenthood. Read on from Dr. Ochsner at Neighborhood Smiles to learn more about gum disease and pregnancy.
Gum Disease, Pregnancy, and Birth Defects
Here are the facts:
- Up to 75% of pregnant women get gingivitis.
- About 50% of women with gingivitis will see it get worse during pregnancy.
- Hormonal changes and diabetes (common to pregnancy) can increase your risk of gum disease.
- Studies show higher maternal age and lower socioeconomic status are both risk factors for gum disease during pregnancy.
- Though we don’t yet fully understand how or why, gum disease is proven to increase your risk of preterm birth and having a baby with low birth weight.
Why is this important?
Babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds have an increased risk of slower development (physically, socially, emotionally) for the rest of their life. Babies born too early can have those same complications as well as problems with their vision, breathing, hearing, and digestion.
Though it may sound desirable to have a small baby and to have them soon, it’s safer just to commit to the long game on this one. It’s better for you and your baby! Talk with your doctor to learn more about preterm birth and low birth weight.
How You Can Prevent Gum Disease
There’s no hall pass for brushing your teeth while pregnant. Preventative oral health care (brushing, flossing, professional dental cleanings) is both safe and necessary, especially for pregnant women. Not to mention your pregnancy cravings may have you enjoying an extra sweet treat or two these days – ice cream for breakfast, anyone?
Stay ahead of the game and prevent gum disease by eating tooth-friendly foods and keeping your mouth clean. If gingivitis crops up, don’t hesitate to get a professional cleaning at the dentist. You can also ask for prescription-strength mouthwash if you need the extra help.
Talk with both your primary doctor and your dentist about your overall health, including the state of your gums. If you’re looking for a Onalaska dentist, we’d love to care for you during this special time. Call us today to make an appointment!