Women receive a lot of information about pregnancy, including topics that impact the health of the mother and her future baby. There is one topic that does not receive the attention that it should…oral health.
Oral health is a critical part of pre-pregnancy (preconception) and prenatal care, since pregnant women face an above-average risk of oral health problems. Pregnant women are prone to oral health problems because elevated hormone levels cause gums to swell, bleed, and trap food. Up to 30 percent of pregnant women have advanced forms of periodontal disease (severe gum disease). Oral infections during pregnancy can contribute to health problems overall, and may be linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.
Before conceiving and during pregnancy, a woman can take steps to improve and protect her oral health, including:
- brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and flossing daily
- brushing tongue
- eating a healthy diet
- limiting sugary food
- making an appointment to see a dentist; now, more than any other time, an exam of teeth and gums is needed