Could Gum Disease affect my Unborn Baby?

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There has been a number of studies into the affects of gum disease on unborn children. Although many of the reasons why some women give birth prematurely are still unknown there are definite links between gum disease and premature births and underweight babies. It is now thought that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease may be up to seven times as likely to give birth prematurely or give birth to a baby with a low birth weight when compared to those with healthy gums. Periodontal disease can affect unborn children even in the milder cases and theories suggest that it might be the body trying to fight off the bacteria which causes periodontal disease that induces early labour.

Other studies have looked at the treatments which pregnant women undergo to correct their gum disease such as scaling or root planing. This often involves a thorough cleaning of the roots and crowns of teeth. These studies indicate that the procedures themselves may actively reduce the risk of the mother giving birth prematurely. Periodontal disease has also been shown to cause preeclampsia; a dangerous condition which can cause a steep rise in blood pressure. It can not only put the unborn child at risk if the birth is premature but can also cause complications in the mother such as haemorrhages, kidney failures and strokes.

In order to minimise the risks during pregnancy it is advised that you have a check up with your dentist early on. The dentist will give you some advice on how to care for your mouth throughout your pregnancy. Similarly, it is vital that you take proper care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing. You should try to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss every time you brush as well as cleaning your tongue for around thirty seconds. Use of mouthwashes can often help to combat the bacteria responsible for gum problems. Your diet is also important so try to limit the amount of sugary or acidic foods and drinks you ingest during pregnancy.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »