During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to oral infections, periodontitis, and pregnancy gingivitis. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAP) oral health guidelines (2009) suggest that expectant mothers with gum disease have a higher chance of preterm labor and potential for pregnancy complications, typically due to a low birth weight. The best advice to women considering pregnancy is to visit their dentist for a checkup and to treat any oral problems before becoming pregnant.
Preventive measures the already expectant mom should take:
- Have a complete oral exam early in your pregnancy. If x-rays are determined to be essential, your dentist will use extreme caution to protect you and your unborn child. Advances in digital technology have made x-rays much safer today than in the past.
- The best time for any dental treatment is between the 14th and 20th weeks. Keep in mind, dental work is safe during pregnancy but one may not be comfortable sitting in the dental chair in the later months.
- It’s important to complete treatment for gum disease or any other oral infections, in order to prevent risk of preterm labor and possible low birth weights.
- It is imperative to have good oral hygiene habits in order to avoid pregnancy gingivitis, which causes red and swollen gums that bleed easily. This condition results from hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy. Great hygiene can minimize the long-term effects of gingivitis that develops during pregnancy.
Kuhn Family Dentistry takes pride in advocating for the prevention of oral health related complications during pregnancy. We give expectant mothers the tools they need to establish good oral hygiene practices to protect their babies and their own overall health. For more information on this topic, come out to the Sparks Marina on April 27 to support our local chapter of March of Dimes, for the annual March for Babies. Go to www.marchforbabies.org for details. We look forward to seeing you there.