Expectant Mother’s Periodontal Health Vital to Health of Unborn Child

It is common knowledge that a pregnant woman needs to lead a healthy lifestyle to ensure the health of her unborn child.  New research has indicated that a pregnant woman also needs to maintain periodontal health to ensure the health of her baby as well.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) urge all pregnant women to maintain periodontal health because recent research has indicated that pregnant women with periodontal disease may suffer adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

Several studies have indicated that pregnant women with periodontal disease may be more likely to give birth to low-weight or pre-term babies than mothers with healthy gums and teeth.  Low-weight babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are more at risk for developing long-term health problems which include delayed motor skills, social growth, or learning disabilities.  Pre-term babies can suffer the same complications plus other issues which include respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss, or feeding and digestive problems.

Periodontal disease is a chronic, bacteria-induced, inflammatory condition that attacks the gum tissue and even the bone supporting the teeth if left untreated.  It can lead to tooth loss and also has been linked to other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well.

Symptoms of periodontal disease are tenderness, redness, or swollen gums; gums that bleed when brushed; gums that are pulling away from the teeth; bad breath and loose teeth. 

Both the AAP and the EFP agree that maintaining good oral health is an important part of pregnancy and also agree that non-surgical periodontal therapy is safe for pregnant women.  Pregnant women need to visit their dentist for regular check-ups and treatment throughout their pregnancy to maintain good oral health.

President of the AAP, Dr. Nancy Newhouse, DDS, MS, encouraged regular cleanings during pregnancy saying, “Routine brushing and flossing, and seeing a dentist for evaluation during pregnancy may decrease the chance of adverse pregnancy complications.  By maintaining your periodontal health, you are not only supporting your overall health, but also helping to ensure a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.”