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Expectant Moms and Gum Disease: What You Need To Know

Expectant moms need to pay attention to their health. Women have special dental needs at different stages of life. Pregnancy is no different and in fact, with pregnancy come a few special concerns about the health of your gums. If you're expecting and overdue for a dental checkup, schedule your appointment online to help with a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant women should pay particular attention to health risks associated with gum disease. Research shows that there's a close link between gum disease and pre-term births and low-weight babies. In fact, this year, 45,500 premature births in the US may be linked to gum disease. That's nearly one in five premature births! Untreated gum disease causes more premature births than smoking and alchohol abuse combined. Medical research shows that 40% of women of reproductive age are affected by periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, gum disease and dental decay are both transmissible through saliva.

Pregnant women should add frequent dental visits to the list of health care needs during and following pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body's hormone levels rise considerably. Gingivitis, especially common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy, may cause red, puffy or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush your teeth. This sensitivity is an exaggerated response to plaque and is caused by an increased level of progesterone in your system.

Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings during your pregnancy to help you avoid problems. If you notice changes in your mouth during pregnancy, see your dentist.

Gum disease is common, and it's a serious concern for pregnant women. It's a bacterial infection that can travel in your blood stream from your mouth to the rest of your body, and adversely affect your health and your pregnancy.

What is gum disease?

This infection of the gums and bone is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to your teeth. Left unresolved due to poor at-home dental hygiene and infrequent dental checkups and routine cleanings, plaque forms constantly on teeth and can build up. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins, or poisons, that can irritate your gums.

In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, gums may swell, turn red and bleed easily. However, you may have gum disease and have no symptoms whatsoever. If left untreated, the disease can progress to the bone. In later stages of the disease, called periodontitis, the bone and soft tissues can that support the teeth can be destroyed. This can cause the teeth to become loose, fall out or have to be removed by your dentist.

Periodontal disease can occur at any age, but it is most common among adults. In fact, three out of every four adults are affected by it at some point in their lives. For pregnant women, the risk is doubled, since the adverse affects of gum disease can affect you and your baby.

To help make sure you and your baby are healthy, schedule your dental checkup today and talk to your dentist about how to protect yourself and your child against gum disease.