Thursday, November 10, 2011
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Importance of Oral Hygiene for Pregnant Women

Expectant mothers need to chew on this:

Improper care of their teeth and gums during pregnancy can have a negative impact on not only the teeth and gums of their babies, but also on birth weight and ability to carry to term.

Past studies have shown that women with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a preterm low birth weight baby. Further substantiating the finding are results of a study released in May by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Preliminary study data indicates that women with generalized periodontal disease affecting 30 percent or more of the mouth are eight times more likely than women without severe periodontal disease to deliver underweight and/or premature infants. Even women with a small measure of periodontal disease are reported to be at risk.

Although not yet determined as the cause, periodontal disease can trigger increased levels of biological fluids that bring on labor, the study found. In addition, the more severe the periodontal disease during pregnancy, the higher the risk of premature birth. And hormones often are attributed to an increased likelihood for periodontal disease during pregnancy.

This study also has a second component, an intervention trial to look at what happens when periodontal disease is treated in pregnant women. It is expected to be completed next year.

The data tells us the best advice continues to be that women considering pregnancy have a periodontal screening and get any problems with their oral health under control before becoming pregnant. However, women who are already pregnant should not shy away from dental care. The optimum time to receive periodontal treatment is in the second trimester. It is advisable that women inform their dentists about a pregnancy so adequate care and treatment of the teeth and gums is addressed.

By Felix A. Gen, D.D.S., M.S.
Dr. Felix Gen is an Orthodontic Specialist in Lyndhurst, Ohio
He can be reached at (216) 291-3525 or visit his web-site

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