I am thinking of having a baby. Is there anything I should be aware of?

PregnancyIt is well established and documented that gum disease has a 2-7 fold increase in causing preterm births, preeclampsia, and low birth weight. Premature birth is an important issue as it is the leading cause of death in the first month, causing up to 70% of perinatal deaths, among other issues such as feeding difficulties, respiratory distress syndrome, and delayed brain development.

During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels (progesterone and oestrogen) cause changes in blood vessels in the gums, leading to an inflammatory response, and increasing susceptibility to oral infections. Without changes in plaque bacteria levels, 50-70% of women will experience pregnancy gingivitis. It is this hypersenstivity that creates a hyperinflammatory response to bacteria found in dental plaque – resulting in pregnancy gingivitis.

Pregnancy gingivitis is characterised by uncontrollable swelling and bleeding of the gums during pregnancy which can not simply be resolved with a tootbrush and floss. Pregnancy gingivitis may also cause pain and discomfort and hence why prevention should be a priority.

Ideally a check-up should be made before you consider conceiving. There are many dental problems that can occur during the pregnancy for the mum-to-be, so a check-up prior to conception is important.

There are certain procedures which should be avoided while pregnant (unless for emergencies) especially during the first and third trimesters.

Contact Healthy Smile Centre for a personalised assessment and advice.

The information above was summarised from: Jared & Boggess 2008, “Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Adverse Outcomes: A Review of the Evidence and Implications for Clinical Practice”, Journal of Dental Hygiene. Vol82 (3)