Keeping teeth and gums healthy is always important, yet many pregnant women ignore dental visits as they become wrapped up in other health care demands of pregnancy. Disregarding regular dental care during pregnancy poses risks not only to the mother but also to the child she’s carrying.
Research has indicated a possible link between gum disease in pregnant women and low birth weight, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth. While those relationships have not been conclusively proven, there is strong evidence that keeping your teeth and gums healthy while pregnant poses no harm to the baby and is a key component in counteracting some of the negative effects pregnancy can have on oral health.
How does pregnancy affect the teeth and gums?
- Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk for cavities as well as cause gum inflammation.
- So-called pregnancy gingivitis—a mild inflammation of gums that occurs during pregnancy—affects as many as one third of all pregnant women.
- Tooth decay and enamel erosion may also increase as a result of changes in diet, along with nausea and vomiting.
- Tooth and gum disease is also associated with heart disease, respiratory illness and diabetes in the mother, all of which can affect your child while still in the uterus.
If these reasons are not enough to encourage you to maintain dental care during pregnancy, consider this: Studies also have shown that mother-to-child transmission of bacteria through transference of saliva is the primary cause of cavities in young children. This means that when your mouth is healthier and fewer harmful bacteria are present, the risk of your child’s developing cavities is significantly lower. Taken altogether, keeping your own teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy is a safe, simple way to improve your child’s overall health, both before and after birth.