Becoming pregnant is a wonderful state of being that causes a great deal of changes in the body. There is an old wives tale that when it comes to pregnancy there is, “A tooth for every child.” While this is not exactly the truth, women will experience changes in their teeth and gums when they become pregnant and as they go through the different trimesters of their pregnancy.
There is a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis and approximately half of all women will experience it. Unlike regular gingivitis this type can cause a certain level of pain and discomfort and bring on such symptoms as bleeding, redness, swelling, puffiness, and tenderness in the tissues of the gums. If pregnancy gingivitis is allowed to develop into the more serious periodontal disease then the attachment fibers of the teeth can weaken and bone loss and loosened teeth can result. This can inadvertently affect the health of the baby, both before and after he or she is born.
Research studies have clearly shown that there is a strong connection between gum disease and women giving birth to babies who are preterm and low birth weight. Some studies have suggested that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times as likely to have a baby that comes into the world too soon and is tiny in size as opposed to women who do not show any signs of gum disease. It is strongly believed that the reason for this is a chemical that is “labor-inducing” and is found in the bacteria in the mouth known as prostaglandin. Women who have been diagnosed with severe periodontal disease often show extremely high levels of this chemical in their system.
Pregnant women who have been diagnosed with periodontal disease should visit their doctor as often as possible. A periodontist is likely to recommend a type of non-surgical procedure known as scaling and root planing. This procedure involves cleaning the teeth and roots of teeth in order to get rid of plaque and tartar that has built up in the pockets at the base of the teeth. The roots of the teeth will then be smoothed down in order to get rid of the bacteria and toxins that reside there.
Scaling and root planing are dental procedures that can be very effective at decreasing the risk that a woman with gum disease will suffer a preterm birth. These procedures are also effective at reducing many of the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany gum disease such as redness, swelling and tenderness of the gums.
In order to decrease your chances of a premature birth and all of the problems that this brings a woman should take a multivitamin supplement every day that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid which is a B vitamin, both in the months before she becomes pregnant and during her pregnancy. She should also give up smoking and drinking and engage in neither during her pregnancy. Even one drink and one cigarette can be harmful to a developing fetus. Always follow your doctor’s and dentist’s orders and take as good of care of your health and your body as you possibly can.