As patients of Dr. Barrett know, a connection exists between your oral and overall health. While daily brushing and flossing, along with receiving regular dental care in Beaverton, Oregon, helps to improve the health of a patient’s teeth and gums, these habits can also greatly lower the risk for serious disease.
Decades worth of study have shown compelling connections exist between tooth decay and gum disease and a range of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.
Poor oral health not only threatens the health of patients, but it can also impact a woman’s pregnancy. Even though the physiological changes that occur naturally as part of pregnancy can impact a woman’s health, pre-existing oral health problems can have an impact on the health and well-being of a mother and her baby.
The Impact of Pre-Existing Dental Disease
A variety of pre-existing conditions can negatively impact a woman’s pregnancy. In association with oral health, studies have found that pregnant women with pre-existing gum disease have a higher risk for experiencing complications during their pregnancy, including preterm birth, low birth rates, and the development of pre-eclampsia.
Studies have even shown that women with gum disease have twice the risk of experiencing a preterm birth when compared to women with healthy gums. Complications of children born at too young an age include growth reduction, developmental delays, and hearing impairment. But what about gum disease causes this to occur?
Certain types of harmful oral bacteria can cause inflammation to develop throughout the body. When inflammation occurs, it causes the body’s immune system to respond, which places additional strain on a pregnancy. This response can even cause contractions that may result in preterm labor or low birth weight.
The Role of Oral Health During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces higher levels of hormones. These hormonal changes can lead to an increased risk of gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease), gum sensitivity, and gum inflammation.
A hormonal change can also contribute to plaque growth. Plaque, a sticky biofilm, clings to the surface of a patient’s teeth and produces harmful substances that contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. The more plaque in the mouth, the higher a patient’s risk for these diseases becomes.
Unfortunately, many pregnant patients remain unaware that their mouths now produce more plaque, which necessitates a need to brush and floss more frequently. Patients who continue to maintain their normal oral hygiene routine may not fully compensate for the difference, leading to an increased rate of gum disease.
Bouts of morning sickness that occur during pregnancy also cause an acidic environment to develop in the mouth. Higher pH levels that result may also contribute further to tooth decay and gum disease.
Finally, many women are hesitant to receive dental care in Beaverton, Oregon during their pregnancy. Whether this occurs due to a lack of perceived need or a mistaken belief that dental care is unsafe during pregnancy, not receiving dental care in Beaverton, Oregon can also lead to an increased risk of dental disease and decay.
Fortunately, research has found that dental care during pregnancy is not only safe, but vitally important to improving a woman’s long-term oral health. Dr. Barrett recommends that expectant mothers undergo a full oral examination at the start and throughout the pregnancy to monitor their oral health for any signs of potential complications.
After all, your oral health matters, not just to you but also to your baby. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining a healthy smile during pregnancy. Make sure to keep brushing and flossing while also scheduling regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Barrett.