As your family dentistry in Lakewood, CO, our team at Advanced Family Dental wants all our patients to understand the role oral health can play in impacting a woman’s pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who suffer from gum disease, tooth decay and other types of oral disease have a significantly higher risk of suffering pregnancy complications that range from low-birth weight to premature delivery to preeclampsia. Fortunately, research has also found that by improving their oral health, pregnant women can lower their risk of these types of complications.
A recent study conducted by Procter and Gamble – working in tandem with a decade-long researcher effort – has confirmed that successfully treating gingivitis – an early form of gum disease – during pregnancy can significantly reduce a woman’s chance of premature delivery and low-birth weight.
Researchers covered the findings of their study at this year’s ADA 2016 meeting.
Improving Pregnancy Health
The study followed approximately 70 women suffering from moderate to severe gingivitis during pregnancy, with the women following either an advanced or regular oral care regimen.
The increased prevalence of gingivitis during pregnancy has long been documented by health studies. A woman’s constantly shifting hormones during pregnancy makes her far more prone to developing what’s commonly referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” However, researchers noted that some of the most interesting data related to this correlation showed that no difference existed as to whether a woman might develop gingivitis during pregnancy and socioeconomic status.
The odds of developing gum disease were shown to be approximately the same for wealthy patients with access to professional dental care as for woman who lived at the poverty line who had limited access to oral care. Researchers found the diagnosis level of gum disease to be identical in both of these population groups.
After determining that pregnancy itself all but guarantees some level of gingivitis, researchers stressed how important it is that oral health professionals know as soon as possible if a patient is pregnant and for them to assume that a need for education, targeted preventative care and treatment exists not just for pregnant women, but potentially for any patient of child-bearing age.
Researchers noted that many women avoid visiting the dentist while pregnant out of fear of possible complications arising out of treatment. While it is true that some types of dental care – such as root canals and implants – should be avoided until after delivery, pregnant patients should still seek out regular dental exams and cleanings.
Failure to address their oral needs during pregnancy can result in oral health complications that linger well after delivery. A recent study found that most women who developed gingivitis during pregnancy were still suffering from the disease six months after delivery. The results of this study showed that while gingivitis is a near certainty to develop to some level during pregnancy, the disease does not simply go away once a mother delivers her child.
Other long-term studies have found the gum disease, tooth decay and oral disease have a significant impact on an individual’s health by significantly increasing the risk of such chronic diseases as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and cancer. Researchers stressed that the current and long-term risks of gum disease make oral care during pregnancy a top priority for any expectant mother.
Protecting Your Oral Health
It’s critical that any expectant mother schedule regular visits to our family dentistry in Lakewood, CO. Regular exams and cleanings provide our team the opportunity to spot the signs of gum disease early on while still easily treatable. When treated during early stages, the damage caused by gum disease can be easily preventable or even reversed. Unfortunately, if a woman fails to visit the dentist during pregnancy, she neglects receiving the kind of care needed to help protect the health of her and her child.
If your pregnant or attempting to become pregnant, talk with our staff at Advanced Family Dental during your next appointment to determine what steps you can take to help improve and strengthen your oral health now so that you’re better prepared for the hurdles you may face during pregnancy.