Google+ Authentic Parenting: Six Symptoms to Help Expectant Women Identify Periodontal Disease

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Six Symptoms to Help Expectant Women Identify Periodontal Disease

Written by Carolyn 

When I was pregnant with my son last year, I thought I was doing everything right. I was eating a balanced, nutritious diet, attending bi-weekly yoga classes to prepare my body for labor, taking all of my vitamins, and attending all of my medical visits, including all prenatal checkups. I mean, I gained some weight, yes, but I wouldn't say I gained an unreasonable amount for a pregnant woman. In my books, and according to my OBGYN, I was doing everything right.

Image: walknboston on Flickr
Unbeknownst to me, I wasn't. The check up that I needed the most, but forgot completely about was with my dentist. In fact, I cancelled and pushed my yearly dental checkup back and figured I could just deal with it after my delivery. What I didn't know then was that my dental health was actually putting my baby's health at risk, and not only that, it would lead to costly cosmetic dentistry later on to fix the damage that could have been easily identified had I kept my appointment.

What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, presents itself in our mouths as a chronic bacterial infections (i.e., gingivitis or periondontis) when sticky plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth. This plaque is full of bacteria and will actually attack the tissues that surround the teeth, such as the gums and bones, when left untreated. Once the plaque attacks the healthy tissues in your mouth, it will cause the gums to become inflamed (commonly known as gingivitis) and could result in tooth loss if left over the long term. If infection resides in an expectant mother's gums, it's not long before the infection will spread from the mouth, through the bloodstream, and to the fetus in utero.

The link between pregnancy and gum disease
According to leading medical research from the Journal of Periodontology, there lies a strong link between gum disease and issues during pregnancy. For example, expecting women who have gum disease (also called periodontal disease) are more likely to have pregnancy complications, specifically low birth weight babies. In fact, studies link bacterial gum infection to the unexpected contraction of the uterus, leaving pregnant women with gum disease with a 57-percent chance of delivering a low birth weight baby and a 50-percent risk of a preterm delivery. What makes matters worse is that gum disease is extremely common, effecting more than 35 million Americans. So the chance of already having gum disease when conceiving is very high for U.S. women. The problem worsens because the majority of pregnant women and women in general, have no knowledge of the risks associated with gum infections and pregnancy.

Take the time to educate yourself about gum disease
Now that you're aware that periodontal disease (or gum disease) can affect the health of your baby, further education is important. An expectant Mother can identify gum disease by the following symptoms:
  1. Red, inflamed, or tender gums
  2. Lasting bad breath
  3. Loose teeth
  4. A foul taste in the mouth
  5. Receding gums
  6. Gums that bleed during and after flossing or brushing
About the author
Carolyn is a former Dental Hygienist turned stay-at-home-mom and writer on topics concerning cosmetic dentistry and oral health. As a mother, Carolyn is committed to raising a family in an organic, pesticide free home, and so when she can't buy organic, you will often find Carolyn rooting in her large garden for the ingredients to make her own soaps, cleaning supplies and nutritious, organic meals and remedies.



  1. Sticky plaque causes more than just gum disease and bad breath for most pregnant women, it can also affect the overall health of the baby. That is why I make sure I get proper oral care, thanks to my summerville cosmetic dentist when I was pregnant.

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  3. During pregnancy, necessary precautions should carefully be done in order to prevent unexpected turn of events. Proper oral hygiene is only one of those things. Eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will prevent an expectant woman to avoid periodontal disease.

  4. I can certainly relate to what you mentioned about developing bad breath during pregnancy. That was one issue I had to deal with my wife after she gave birth to our cute baby boy. Thank goodness the case was "solved" after taking her to a dentists fort mill who knew right away what to do with the "situation".

  5. I always go to my dentist in greenville sc. I seriously don't want any problems with my teeth. This is a great article though, it will help us identify certain problems.

  6. Occasionally, bad breath can be a sign of a more serious illness. The most common systemic causes of bad breath are diabetes or GERD (or gastro esophageal reflux disease). Diabetes can also cause ketosis, and the resulting bad breath is sometimes one of first symptoms that lead to diagnosis. GERD is a backflow of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. Less common but possible are liver or kidney disease--when toxins from these organs are excreted through the lungs, causing bad breath.

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