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Why You Should Care about Gum Disease during Your Pregnancy

October 11, 2019 by  
Filed under A. Tavoularis

By Amanda Tavoularis, DDS (dentably.com)

Gum disease is a common ailment affecting millions of people each year, but are you aware of the additional issues it can cause for pregnant women? It’s true, this oral issue has far-reaching effects throughout your body and can cause serious complications if left untreated. As a dentist of 20 years, I’ve worked with many pregnant women and helped them understand the implications of their oral health on their pregnancies. Today we’ll look at the aforementioned gum disease, and what every pregnant woman should know about the disease.

What Is Gum Disease and Why Should I Care?

Gum disease is, simply put, a bacterial infection of the gums. It causes red and swollen gums, and is usually caused by poor oral hygiene. That said, it can also be caused by other factors out of your control such as genetics or, of particular interest when pregnant, raised hormone levels.

The reason why gum disease is particularly dangerous for pregnant women is that it has been linked to premature births, possibly due to the role of the bacteria in triggering systemic inflammation. Having gum disease raises the chances that you’ll have a premature birth, which is why it’s so important to deal with it. Gum disease has also been shown to cause or aggravate other ailments such as heart disease and diabetes, which can also cause unwanted effects on your pregnancy.

Two Easy Steps to Prevention

Luckily, gum disease is easy enough to prevent, and depending on your current habits, you might not need to change much at all.

The first step is simply to have good at-home care. This means brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash every day. Maintaining a balanced, low-sugar diet and fighting cravings is also important. These preventative measures are the best way to protect your mouth against gum disease and give you the best chance of avoiding it.

Outside of that, it’s also important to make sure you’re visiting your dentist regularly. Yet even with good care, as noted above, factors such as increased hormone levels can also cause the disease, meaning you may still be at risk. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat any issues, and can provide feedback on your overall oral health. The deep cleaning a dentist provides is also important to preventing issues before they begin.

Seeking Treatment

Lastly, if you do develop gum disease, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. In many cases, letting the disease sit only makes it worse because it gives more time for the bacteria to spread. Listen to your dentist, and take their recommendation on the best and safest time to begin treatment.

This is a point a lot of pregnant women are a bit apprehensive about, and for good reason. Many see the sedatives used and question whether they will affect their pregnancy. Others simply think the risks of getting an operation done during pregnancy are too great and are wary to go through with it.

The truth is that putting off the procedure is often more dangerous than getting it, because a delay in treatment allows the disease to progress. Many sedatives are for the most part safe and leave your body quickly without causing lasting effects. Always check with your dentist, though, as some can be harmful.

With that in mind, it’s important to listen to your dentist and receive treatment if recommended. Rest assured that your dentist wants only the best for you and would never do something that puts you or your pregnancy in danger.

Taking care of your oral health should be a priority for every pregnant woman. By doing so, you help keep your body healthy and prevent serious complications down the road. Keep up with your oral routine and visit the dentist regularly, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining your healthy smile and healthy pregnancy.

About the Author: Amanda Tavoularis, DDS, brings more than two decades of expertise to the Dentably team and is committed to providing information and care to women and expecting mothers. She studied at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and continued her education at the Kois Center. With a son of her own, Dr. Amanda knows firsthand how to take care of your dental health during pregnancy.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.