Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful experience and all mothers should take care of their nutrition during pregnancy to ensure that their babies are born healthy. But oral health is often ignored and moms do not give extra care for their oral health. Research has suggested a clear link between periodontal( Gum) disease and preterm birth. So all the expecting moms should visit their dentist as visiting their gynecologists.
By definition, when a baby is born at or before 37 weeks of gestation, it’s called a preterm birth. Premature births are the primary cause of mortality in babies and even if they survive, there are complications and consequences that last a lifetime. They may become intellectual disable, develop cerebral palsy or develop chronic lung disease. Many may experience hearing and vision loss.
Risk factors of premature birth
Often, the specific cause of premature birth isn’t clear. However, there are known risk factors of premature delivery, including:
- Having a previous premature birth
- Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
- An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
- Conceiving through in vitro fertilization
- Problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
- Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
- Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
- Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
- Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or domestic violence
- Multiple miscarriages or abortions
- Physical injury or trauma
For unknown reasons, black women are more likely to experience premature birth than are women of other races. But premature birth can happen to anyone. In fact, many women who have a premature birth have no known risk factors.
Periodontal disease and premature birth
However, there is strong evidence to support that periodontal disease is also a risk factor for preterm birth and efforts are being made to make mothers more aware about their oral hygiene.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal 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.
Gum diseases are of two kinds- gingivitis and periodontitis. Inflammation of your gums is called gingivitis. Gingivitis looks like red, soft, and sore gum tissue. Gingivitis is caused by plaque, which is a biofilm of bacteria deposited on the tooth. Clinical symptoms of gingivitis is bleeding and tender gums and can be treated by a minor treatment of scaling the teeth.
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.
Periodontitis, will cause gum pockets and loss of bone support around the teeth, and this can be treated by Periodontist such as Dr.Miski. It’s a more severe form of gum disease and since pregnant females are at higher risk of developing gum diseases due to overactive hormones, this requires immediate more attention for pregnant women. Treatment has to be more aggressive and involves scaling and root planning.
The bacteria causing periodontal disease, will reach the endometrium i.e. the muscular layer of the uterus that supports the baby. These bacteria release toxins known as endotoxins there which cause inflammation of that muscle and thus induce labor by causing muscle contractions leading to this premature birth.
- 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.
How You Can Prevent Gum Disease
Preventative oral health care (brushing, flossing, professional dental cleanings) is both safe and necessary, especially for pregnant women. Some pregnant females may experience gum swellings at a particular location which may be a form of pregnancy gingivitis and may experience excessive gum bleeding.
Not to mention your pregnancy cravings may have you enjoying an extra sweet treat as well, so try to prevent gum disease by eating tooth-friendly foods and keeping your mouth clean. If gingivitis happens, don’t hesitate to get a professional cleaning and visit your periodontist.
To prevent premature delivery, it is strongly recommended to maintain your oral hygiene and to keep a regular check up before and during the pregnancy.
Have more questions? Book an appointment to have them all answered and have your peace of mind.