When you become pregnant, you are probably aware that you should avoid smoking, drinking, and drug abuse. It is general knowledge that participation in these things may have a negative effect on a growing fetus. One thing that many women do not know, however, is that gum disease may also have a large effect on a developing baby. Studies have shown that gingivitis and periodontal disease may increase a woman’s likelihood of giving premature birth to a low birth weight baby.
What Is Gum Disease?
Disease of the gums is an active, or living, infection in the gums. Any infection existing in the body during pregnancy needs to be treated. Although you might experience pain, not everyone with gum disease does. The following symptoms are common with gingivitis or periodontal disease:
- Inflammation and gum tenderness
- Bleeding gums during or after flossing or brushing
- Gums that appear to be pulled away
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Sudden change in bite
- Mouth pus
- Uncommonly bad breath
As soon as any of these symptoms are noticed, contact the Ohio Valley Center for Periodontics and Implants to receive treatment immediately. To avoid potential problems for a developing child, it is always a good idea to have your oral health examined before and during pregnancy.
Stages Of The Disease
Many women notice changes in oral health during pregnancy. Those who have previously experienced oral health problems are more likely to have problems during pregnancy.
Women often experience signs of gingivitis during the first trimester. Bleeding gums may be evidence of gingivitis. If left untreated, the disease may continue throughout the pregnancy, potentially developing into periodontal disease, which is much more serious. Periodontal disease attacks not only the gums, but also the bone surrounding the jaw and teeth.
How Can It Affect A Growing Fetus?
The understanding that gum disease is an infection helps to make the potential effects on a child more evident. Just like a pregnant mother would want to avoid any other bacterial infection, a gum infection is not an exception. Any situation that may lead to a growing infection should be avoided to protect the health of the unborn child.
In the case of periodontal disease, toxins from a bacterial infection in the mouth can spread into the bloodstream, causing an unnatural release of chemicals into the body. The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry performed a study which showed that pregnant women with periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to give premature birth. Low birth weight is also a potential consequence resulting from a mother’s gum infection or periodontal disease.