If you are pregnant, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!
You are going to want to read this post to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy during and after your pregnancy!
Oral Health Care
During your pregnancy, it is very important that you maintain your oral health. Many dental insurances offer free dental care to expecting mother because they recognize the increased risk to several of the health conditions associated with poor oral health.
Visit your dentist
As soon as you find out your are pregnant, please let your dentist know! Typically, it is generally safe to treat pregnant women during all trimesters in pregnancy. However, we try to hold off major treatment until after the first trimester.
During your second and third trimester, we can perform extractions, fillings, X-rays, and more! It is perfectly safe and your dentist will talk to you about any procedure you need and the risks involved.
So why is seeing your dentist so important during pregnancy?
Poor oral health can lead to several issues such as heart disease, complications with diabetes, and systemic infections, just to name a few. The main one we will talk about today is periodontal disease and pregnancy.
When you have poor oral heath as a pregnant women, you can develop maternal periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is a reversible condition where the bacterial build up in your mouth causes your gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. This can be cured by getting a cleaning completed by your dentists or dental hygienist.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease. Periodontal disease caused bone loss, gum recession, loose teeth, and bleeding gums.
There are millions of bacteria in your mouth. If your gums are bleeding or inflamed that means the blood vessels are dilated, allowing bacteria to get into your bloodstream. Once the bacteria reaches your bloodstream, this is where the real issues begin.
Bacteria and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes
Periodontal disease in pregnant women can cause many adverse health outcomes for the mother and the child. Not only can the mother suffer from oral pain, loose teeth, and bleeding gums, but she can also put the health of her unborn child at risk!
The mother’s dental health plays a huge role in the unborn child’s health and development.
Periodontal disease and periodontal infection can cause the following pregnancy outcomes:
- Preterm low birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Fetal growth restriction
- Spontaneous abortion
- Placental inflammation
- Preterm labor
- And so much more!
Adverse outcomes are the last thing expectant mothers want to worry about.
Many expectant mothers don’t ever think about going to the dentist during their pregnancy because they don’t understand how the oral cavity can affect their unborn child.
Dental pain is one of the main reasons pregnant women decide to come in to see the dentist. Pregnant patients should focus on prevention and ensuring their oral health is stable during their pregnancy.
Having routine dental exams are extremely important before, during and after any pregnancy.
Annual dental checkups are highly recommended for all patients, especially expectant mothers.
During a dental exam, the dentist will conduct a thorough exam of your oral cavity including but not limited to:
- Taking X-Rays
- Periodontal charting
- Oral hygiene instructions
Are X-Rays safe while pregnant? I get asked this question a lot and the short answer is YES!
The person taking the X-Ray will ensure you are well covered with a lead apron to protect you and your unborn child.
There are several studies out there that show the level of radiation exposure experienced in a dental office and that amount is very little. Plus, there are many safety features built into the X-Ray machines that prevent scattered radiation.
Ask your dental provider to talk to you more about why X-Rays are safe for pregnant women.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will use something called a periodontal probe. This instrument measures the space between your teeth and your gums. This is called a periodontal pocket. we are typically looking for shallow pockets and if you have deep pockets, and no we are not talking about being rich, then you have a potential to have gum related issues.
If your periodontal pockets are too deep, your toothbrush and floss have a hard time getting down there to clean them so you get a build up of bacteria and that is no bueno for the gums and teeth.
During pregnancy, your hormones are crazy high! This has an effect on your gums, often times causing them to get very puffy and bleed easily. When your gums get puffy, this makes your periodontal pockets bigger which can trap more food and bacteria and cause pain.
Pregnancy Associated Gingivitis
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. This is something that is reversible and can be cured.
If your hormone levels are elevated, your gums get puffy and trap more food and bacteria. This can lead to pregnancy gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can develop into periodontal disease, requiring periodontal therapy and dental procedures to manage it as this condition is not reversible.
If you have consistent inflammation in the mouth, either with pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal disease, this can lead to several issues.
The bacterial toxins reach the blood stream and cause a reaction from your body’s immune system to fight off the bacteria. This immune response also has its own side effects on the body and if the issue is not resolved, meaning your doing see your dentist to cure our gingivitis or manage your periodontal disease, then you risk having poor pregnancy outcomes.
Oral bacteria in the mouth can reach your blood stream with ease when your gums are inflamed. When your gums are inflamed from gingivitis or periodontal disease, the blood vessels are dilated and bacteria can pass through them easily.
Inflammation and Pregnancy Outcomes
Inflammation in the mouth can cause several issues in the body. For expectant mothers, here are some of the potential issues:
- Low infant birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Diabetes mellitus, aka gestational diabetes
- Maternal periodontal disease
The immune inflammatory response is great but not when the issue is not resolved and there is a consistent immune response.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, you will possibly need the following periodontal treatment to manage your periodontal disease:
- Periodontal scaling aka deep cleaning
- Periodontal maintenance aka cleaning
- Antibiotics deposited into the periodontal pockets
To avoid an adverse pregnancy outcome, such as low birth weight, pregnancy complications, and maternal periodontitis, you should need your dentist at least once during your pregnancy for an exam.
Periodontal bacteria, bacterial infections, and dental caries are all a possible risk factor for periodontal disease and preterm birth. See your dentist asap once you confirm your pregnancy and learn about your periodontal status and oral health
Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease
You need to take periodontal infections seriously and recognize the effects that oral diseases can have on you and your unborn child.
Perinatal mortality, and preterm infants, are all very serious conditions that can possibly be prevented by simply seeing your dentist during your pregnancy.
By now, I hope you can clearly see that periodontal disease and pregnancy should not be in the same sentence.
Prevent gum disease by taking control of your oral health. protect your gum tissue and avoid early spontaneous preterm birth.
Floss, Rinse, Brush Repeat! This will help to reduce dental plaque and bacterial buildup on your teeth. See your dentist annually for your dental exams and especially during your pregnancy.
- Dr. Gibbz (Public Health Dentist)