If you have been following the Specialist Dental Group blog, reading our articles/interviews in magazines or papers, or had the opportunity to attend one of our public dental talks, you will have heard about the close connection between oral health and the health of other parts of the body.
For women who are planning to start a family, one of the things that should be on your “To-Do” list (besides ensuring you are in good health and taking folic acid) is to visit your dentist.
Research has shown a close connection between gum disease and pregnancy complications such as pre-term delivery. According to the American Association of Periodontology, pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to have early deliveries. Premature babies have a lower birth weight and are known to have more developmental problems and allergies. In addition, a higher rate of miscarriage is possible in women with periodontitis.
More recently, the Case Western University in the USA documented a link between a woman with periodontal problems and a stillborn baby. The researchers found that the same bacteria that was found in the patient’s infected gums worked its way into the placenta and infected the baby’s lungs and stomach.
Women also experience hormonal fluctuations throughout the different stages in life, including during pregnancy where the level of estrogen and progesterone hormones is higher which make the gums more sensitive to inflammation. Thus, you probably have had friends or family members who have complained of swollen gums during pregnancy. Other symptoms include bleeding, swelling, redness or tenderness in the gums. These usually occur during the first trimester and may increase in severity as the pregnancy progresses.
In some cases, the pregnant woman’s teeth can actually move apart due to the swollen gums. If you are pregnant and experiencing any of the above, do make sure you see your periodontist (gum specialist) as soon as possible to address the problem.
Left – Pregnancy gingivitis – notice that there is a gap between the two front teeth as a result of the swollen gums Right – After gum treatment – healthy gums and the gap has closed
For more information on gum treatment, visit the Specialist Dental Group website.