Dental care isn’t always the first health concern of pregnant women. But new research has found bad oral care can endanger a mother’s health during pregnancy and pose a risk to her unborn child.
A review of studies by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has found many women do not seek -- and are not counseled by their doctors to receive -- proper dental care as part of their routine prenatal care.
Researchers have found hormone changes during pregnancy can make women’s gums more susceptible to swelling and inflammation. As a result, bacteria can cause gum disease and health complications for both mother and child.
“Caring for a pregnant mother’s teeth and gums should start before she becomes pregnant,” said Dr. Doron Kochman, a pediatric dental specialist at the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in New York.
“Ideally, women who are planning to get pregnant should visit their dentists and have any necessary work done before the pregnancy. Mothers should continue to visit their dentists for routine prevention visits during their pregnancies.”
Periodontal disease can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in pregnant women and their babies. Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease in mothers and an increased chance of delivering premature or low birth weight babies and preeclampsia, a life-threatening disorder caused by high blood pressure in pregnancy.
Most dentists recommend the following tips for expectant moms:
• Brush at least twice a day.
• Floss regularly.
• Avoid sugary snacks.
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
• Get regular dental exams.