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Mouthing off

Your smile says a lot about you, and we know you take care of it by brushing and flossing regularly. But new research says your mouth can tell you more than you think: studies published by The Journal of the American Dental Association have shown that pregnant women with chronic gum disease (pregnancy gingivitis) are...

022813bb-featureYour smile says a lot about you, and we know you take care of it by brushing and flossing regularly. But new research says your mouth can tell you more than you think: studies published by The Journal of the American Dental Association have shown that pregnant women with chronic gum disease (pregnancy gingivitis) are four to seven times more likely to delivery their babies prematurely. Additionally, new research from Case Western University links pregnancy gingivitis to stillborn babies in rare cases.
Gum disease is one of the most common diseases in the United States: It affects over 85% of Americans, and can happen to anyone. It has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and even certain cancers. Usually, it can be combatted by brushing, flossing and using antiseptic mouthwash more frequently. However, due to the changes in hormones during pregnancy, pregnant women are MUCH more likely to develop the disease. An estimated 50 to 70% of pregnant women contract pregnancy gingivitis. Symptoms include redness, soreness or bleeding of the gums. Additionally, because pregnancy makes your body more susceptible to toxins like plaque, inflamed lumps and sores can often flare up on the gums.
These lumps, which occur in up to 10% of pregnant women, are known as pregnancy tumors. While they won’t harm you and generally go away on their own after you give birth, they may be painful. Your dentist may choose to remove them, but keep in mind that roughly half the cases, the tumor grows back. Instead, your dentist may try to determine the cause of the tumor (usually built-up plaque) and remove it.
Gingivitis often goes undiagnosed until the advanced stages. If it isn’t treated, it can lead to tooth decay or even tooth loss. But more importantly, it puts your baby at extreme risk by allowing harmful microbes into your system. Remember, if blood from your bloodstream can get into your mouth, germs from your mouth can get into your bloodstream. Once the germs are in your blood, they can be passed on to your baby, whose developing immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off infection. This can sometimes lead to premature delivery, or in rare cases, stillborn births. In the Case Western study, the same harmful bacteria found in the stillborn child was also found in the plaque on the mother’s teeth, showing the direct path to the baby was through the sores on the mother’s gums.
If you’ve noticed your gums bleeding when you brush, head to the dentist! Make sure to discuss the best toothpaste and mouthwash options for reversing gingivitis and reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth. Remember to brush twice a day, floss once a day and use antiseptic mouthwash daily. For more information, visit fightgumdisease.com.

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