Low birth weight, preterm babies are at risk for a myriad of life-long problems because their little bodies did not reach maturity before birth.  Mothers with gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, have a higher incidence of low birth weight babies. Periodontal disease affects every part of the body, and the bad bacteria from the mouth can cross the placenta.  Unfortunately, you can’t always tell just by merely looking that there is a problem.  The good news is that the solutions are within your reach and can be very inexpensive.  Healthy gums do not bleed.  Since gum disease affects pregnancy, love your baby by loving your mouth.   

Periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease in the world, destroying the bone that holds the teeth in. The word actually means “around the tooth” with “peri” (around) and “odonto” (tooth).  According to some estimates, more than 80 percent of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of this inflammatory disease.  It can range from bleeding gums to full-blown loss of the anchoring bone.  It is often the cause of bad breath or halitosis.

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease when the gums are red, possibly swollen, and tend to bleed easily.  At this point, the space or “pocket” between the tooth and supporting bone is 1-3 millimeters (mm).  This stage is easily reversible with:

  • A thorough debridement by a qualified dental hygienist
  • A diet of nutrient-dense foods
  • Plenty of pure water everyday
  • A dedicated, daily home care regimen of plaque and debris removal until your teeth feel squeaky clean

The myriad of hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the gums to swell.  That’s why it is imperative to have healthy gums before you get pregnant.  Ironically, I’ve been the first one to tell quite a few of my patients that they are probably pregnant based on changes in the appearance of their gums.  It is one of the early signs of pregnancy.

When gum disease progresses to cause loss of the supporting bone, the disease is called periodontitis.  At this stage, there are colonies of bad bacteria growing and multiplying under the gums.  Their toxic by-products do not stay under the gums.  They get in the bloodstream and the same blood that travels through your mouth travels to every other part of your body.  Early in the progression, pocket depth can be 4-5 mm but can worsen if untreated.  Since this can be a “silent disease” similar to diabetes or high blood pressure, everyone needs to have a Comprehensive Periodontal Exam annually where the pocket depth is carefully measured at six points around each tooth and all bleeding is noted.

Here are three of the most important things to remember about the health of your mouth at every stage of life:

  1. Healthy gums do not bleed.
  2. Healthy gums do not bleed.
  3. Healthy gums do not bleed.

Oh, one more thing. Healthy gums do not bleed!  It is so easy to think that just because it’s always happened, that makes it OK.  When you can accept that all bleeding is a sign of disease, then you can address the problem and get it under control.  The earlier you can nurture good habits, the healthier you will be.  And, you will save loads of money and time in the dental chair.  

You can prevent active periodontal disease in your mouth.  The health of your baby depends on it.  Seek quality preventive dental care and develop daily habits to keep your mouth disease free.  Your entire body will benefit. Since gum disease affects pregnancy, love your baby by loving your mouth.  You can do it.  Just START SOMEWHERE.

Gum Disease Affects Pregnancy

Gum Disease Affects Pregnancy