According to the Oral Health Foundation, “Research discovered that women who entered labor early were one and a half times more likely (45%) to have gum disease than women who experienced a perfect pregnancy (29%). If you are pregnant, there is a significant reason to stay on top of your dental health!
At Elegant Smiles, we want patients to understand the important connection between gum disease and premature birth. By understanding this link, we can emphasize the significance of maintaining optimal oral health during pregnancy for the health of both mother and baby.
The Link between Gum Disease and Premature Birth
It’s no secret that pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation. However, it is also a time when women need to pay close attention to their oral health. Studies have found a strong association between untreated gum disease (periodontitis) in expectant mothers and an increased risk of premature birth. Let’s delve deeper into this crucial connection:
Inflammation and Infection:
Gum disease is characterized by inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissues. When left untreated, this chronic infection releases harmful bacteria and inflammatory molecules into the bloodstream. These substances can reach the placenta, potentially triggering an inflammatory response that interferes with fetal development and increases the risk of premature birth.
Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM):
Gum disease has been linked to premature rupture of membranes (PROM), a condition where the amniotic sac surrounding the baby breaks before the onset of labor. PROM can lead to preterm birth, putting both the baby and mother at risk for complications. The oral bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the amniotic fluid through the compromised membranes, potentially triggering an inflammatory response and early labor.
The chronic inflammation caused by gum disease can induce the release of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that regulate various processes in the body, including labor. Elevated levels of these prostaglandins may contribute to the initiation of preterm labor and premature birth.
Low Birth Weight:
Premature birth is strongly associated with low birth weight. Babies born prematurely often have inadequate time to develop fully, resulting in lower birth weights and potential health complications. Gum disease increases the risk of delivering a baby with low birth weight, as the inflammatory response triggered by oral bacteria can interfere with the placental function and nutrient supply to the developing fetus.
What You Can Do as a Mom-to-Be
Given the potential risks associated with gum disease during pregnancy, it is vital for expectant mothers to prioritize their oral health. Here are a few measures to consider:
- Keep Your Oral Hygiene Routine Strong
- Don’t Miss Your Regular Dental Check-ups
- Seek Immediate Treatment for Early Gum Disease Symptoms
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:
Maintaining optimal oral health during pregnancy is not just about a beautiful smile—it is essential for the well-being of both mother and baby. The link between untreated gum disease and premature birth highlights the importance of regular dental care and oral hygiene practices.
At Elegant Smiles in Atlanta, we are here to support you throughout your pregnancy journey. Our team of experienced dental professionals is committed to providing personalized care and guidance to ensure your oral health remains at its best.