Dental Health linked to Preterm Labor

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This Monday I hit the 6 month mark in my pregnancy (hooray I am almost there) and I am still amazed at all the things I am learning throughout this process. When I first got pregnant my doctor casually told me that it was important to go to the dentist once my first trimester was over. I was pretty overdue on going to the dentist anyhow, so I booked an appointment and proceeded to spend roughly 4 hrs getting my teeth scraped, swished, scrubbed and analyzed and thank God I did! The dental hygienist that was working on me proceeded to tell me that it is very common to experience a pregnancy side effect they deem “pregnancy gums.” About half of all pregnant women experience this pregnancy gingivitis which is caused by hormonal changes that increase the blood volume to the gum tissue and cause bleeding and sensitivity. If left untreated, pregnancy gums could then escalate into a form of gum disease called periodontitis which has been linked to preterm labor and low birth weight! What?!

It turns out that the effect of chronic inflammation in your gums can cause your body to think you are in a chronic inflammatory state, decreasing the threshold necessary to trigger uterine irritability. Multiple independent studies have found the link between infection and PLBW (Premature Low Birth Weight) infants and state that women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to have a baby that’s early and underweight.This is what the U.S. Library of National Medicine had to say on the matter:

“Infection is now considered one of the major causes of PLBW deliveries, responsible for somewhere between 30% and 50% of all cases, and periodontitis and periodontal diseases are true infections of the oral cavity. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause inflammation in the gums can actually get into the bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to PLBW babies.”

After I got home with my bag of soft tooth brushes and extra thick mint floss I had a whole new appreciation for oral hygiene. I couldn’t believe from the thousands of pages I had read in the pregnancy books and baby blogs that I hadn’t stumbled upon this information once. Luckily, according to the American Pregnancy Association, this can be avoided through good oral hygiene, a trip to the dentist at least once during pregnancy, and good nutrition. In order to sustain my own healthy pregnancy, I have decided that I will be going back again in May for another check-up and cleaning. Please if you are pregnant or know anyone that is pregnant, pass on this information. It is important to know all the facets of personal health when your expecting!

Happy Friday- Valen

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