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.
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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:
- Red, inflamed, or tender gums
- Lasting bad breath
- Loose teeth
- A foul taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Gums that bleed during and after flossing or brushing
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.