Why Periodontal Health Is Important When Expecting

Why Periodontal Health Is Important When Expecting

Pregnancy is an exciting time full of preparations for a new little one. It’s also a time when the body goes through countless changes from top to bottom. Most mothers-to-be notice the most obvious changes, ranging from weight gain to thicker hair. What they may not realize is that hormone shifts caused by pregnancy can impact their dental health. In fact, many women are shocked when their dentist finds multiple cavities following the birth of their child. Good periodontal health is essential while pregnant for the health of both moms and babies.

Greater Risk for Pre-Term Birth

Periodontal disease can cause infections, which can increase the levels of biological fluids that induce labor. Neglecting to adequately care for your teeth and gums during pregnancy can raise the risk of delivering before the 37-week mark. Preterm delivery can be dangerous for babies, as they may not yet be fully developed. These low-birth-weight babies are at risk for developmental delays and may even spend significant time in a neonatal intensive care unit following their entry into the world.

The Impact of Periodontal Disease

Nearly every pregnant woman deals with sore, swollen and bleeding gums, commonly known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Proper oral hygiene is necessary to stop the issue from getting worse. Once gingivitis progresses into periodontal disease, it’s possible to become susceptible to other health concerns, including:

  • Tooth loss
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes

When brushing your teeth, make sure to focus the efforts around the gum line to get rid of plaque and bacterial build up. Flossing is an important part of a daily dental care routine too.

Women’s bodies sacrifice many nutrients as they work to grow tiny humans, which can leave the mouth without protection against bacteria. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can keep moms on the right healthy path as they get ready to welcome new life.

Why Daily Brushing May Not Be Enough to Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Healthy teeth start with healthy habits. The simple oral care habits that are part of your daily routine actually go a long way towards protecting your teeth and gums against a range of preventable dental problems. Taking care of your teeth requires only a few basic tools and a little know-how.

Protect Your Mouth Against Plaque

Gum disease (gingivitis) is cause in part by the plaque that builds up on your teeth near the gum line. This hard layer is formed by bacteria which flourish in the food particles that should be cleared away with brushing. Over time, the layer of plaque causes the gum line to recede. Your gums might feel swollen and tender or might bleed slightly after brushing. These are a few signs that plaque is starting to win.

An scientific article published just three years ago sheds some light onto the way that bacteria have adapted to respond to the dental care products we use every day. According to Yale researchers, the bacteria and fluoride fight as a result of the bacteria switching on specialized chemical defenses. These defenses can prevent the fluoride from doing its job. As a result, you might not be getting the full range of cavity-prevention benefits from your toothpaste. Removing the bacteria is best accomplished by removing the plaque that stimulates their growth.

How Your Dentist Can Help

Even though daily dental care habits will go a long way towards preventing gum disease, regular checkups with your dentist will help ensure a lifetime of good oral health. During your checkup, your dental care team will:

  • Remove the tough layer of plaque that has built up since your last cleaning
  • Check for cavities and places where cavities might develop
  • Identify any chips or cracks that need repairing
  • Provide personalized guidance to help you care for your teeth

Dentists recommend that their juvenile and adult patients see them for checkups and cleaning twice a year. This will help prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.

Oral Health for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to a woman’s body. One area to be concerned about during this exciting time is your oral health. Your baby will need nutrients, such as calcium, from your diet. It is also common from plaque to build up along the gums and teeth as a result of the hormonal changes in your body. This is often referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.”  Since your health is as important as the baby, the following suggestions are recommended during pregnancy.


Pregnant women should make an effort to keep their teeth clean to prevent problems. This is particularly important around the gums. You can do this by brushing twice each day with fluoride toothpaste, and even brushing after each meal if you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease. Flossing is also important each day to prevent plaque build up. In addition, make sure to visit the dentist during this time. This is one of the best things you can do for your oral health while you are pregnant and after you have the baby.

Your Oral Health and the Baby’s Health

Research indicates that there is a possible connection between low birth weight, pre-term babies and gum disease. The bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream and get into the uterus. This might cause the creation of prostaglandins, which are known to cause premature labor.

What to Avoid at the Dentist

Although it is important to see your dentist for your regular checkups and if you have a problem, you might want to avoid the dentist for elective procedures such as teeth whitening, crowns or veneers. These are better to have done after the baby is born. However, if you do have a dental emergency, it is fine to see your dentist at anytime during your pregnancy.

If you are planning to get pregnant it might be wise to schedule an appointment with your dentist. This will provide you with a better understanding of your oral health and how to prevent problems during the pregnancy.