Why Gum Disease Could Delay Pregnancy
The more studies are carried out into gum disease, the more we begin to learn about how it affects general health. Now a recent study carried out in Finland has found gum disease or periodontal disease could affect conception. The study assessed young women who were planning to get pregnant. It also assesses subjects who were reassessed after 12 months to discover if they had managed to conceive during this period of time.
It was found that a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingival and which is associated with periodontal disease was more frequently detected in woman's saliva. In the saliva of women who failed to conceive than amongst those who were successful in becoming pregnant. The levels of antibodies against this pathogen were also found to be significantly higher amongst women who were unable to conceive during that year.
In fact, it was discovered that women with this bacterium took up to 3 times longer to get pregnant than women who didn't have this bacterium. Women who already had signs of the periodontal disease took four times longer to conceive. It's believed that the infection caused by P. gingivalis could prevent ovulation or may affect the embryo, preventing it from implanting properly. Researchers are keen to point out that the study doesn't answer questions for possible reasons for infertility.
The study does show that periodontal bacteria could have a systemic effect. This is even when present in lower amounts and before clinical signs of gum disease are evident. Infertility is quite a common problem and many women will require help getting pregnant. If having healthy gums is one way to conceive more easily, it is worth it. It's worth it to anyone wishing to become pregnant just checking to make sure their dental health is the best it can be.
Why You Should See Your Dentist If You Are Planning to Conceive
If you intend to start a family or want to have another child, you should see your general dentist for a thorough checkup before trying to become pregnant. Alternatively, you could schedule a full periodontal evaluation with a periodontist. A periodontist is a specialist dentist and they can carry out the necessary tests to detect the very earliest signs of gum infection. You do not need a referral from your general dentist to book this kind of detailed evaluation.
Even if you think your gums are perfectly healthy, it is important to get a proper checkup and that's because gum disease is known to affect pregnancy. If you have any signs of gum disease it's best to get treatment for this condition before you conceive. Otherwise, any symptoms of the periodontal disease could worsen during pregnancy. This is because pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the gum tissues sensitivity towards bacteria responsible for causing gum disease.
How Advanced Gum Disease Affects the Unborn Baby
Women with an advanced periodontal disease have been found to be more at risk of having a preterm baby or a low birthweight baby. This is because of the inflammatory nature of this condition. If you do have gum disease or think you might have this condition, it's vital to see a dentist as soon as you can so they can look after you. It's quite possible they may recommend you see a periodontist for more specialized treatments.
They will make sure that any procedures recommended will be safe for your baby. Although some treatments need to be avoided during pregnancy, it's perfectly safe to receive many dental care treatments. It will be much more dangerous for your baby and for your dental health and general health to neglect a potential problem that could develop into a serious infection.
Even women with perfectly healthy gums may develop a condition called pregnancy gingivitis from the second month of pregnancy onwards. Pregnancy gingivitis does clear up once the baby is born but can mean that gums become redder and more swollen and are more likely to bleed. Your dentist can provide treatment to help prevent pregnancy gingivitis, normally through scheduling more frequent hygiene appointments.
This is because a scale and polish remove the calculus or tartar containing bacteria from teeth so gums are less likely to become inflamed and infected. It's a very effective way of controlling this condition during pregnancy. Women with more significant signs of the periodontal disease may need to have their gums regularly deep cleaned. This is to help control the infection and to reduce the risks to their unborn baby.
Looking after Your Dental Health during Pregnancy
You should find your dentist can give you lots of useful help and advice to help you maintain the very best level of dental health during your pregnancy. After first assessing the condition of your teeth and gums, they will recommend any treatments that might be needed. You will be provided with a preventative dental care treatment plan detailing how often you should visit their dental office during pregnancy.
This is alongside possible procedures they think will be useful in maintaining a healthy mouth. Morning sickness is another common issue during pregnancy and which can affect dental health. If you do suffer from this condition then it's worth making sure you are prepared for it wherever you are. Pack a travel toothbrush and toothpaste along with a small bottle of water and perhaps a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash.
Although it's fine to wash your mouth out immediately afterward, ideally it best to wait for half an hour to an hour before you brush your teeth. This is to help minimize the effects of strong stomach acid on your tooth enamel. Immediately after being sick, this acid will demineralize your tooth enamel, making it weaker and more susceptible to decay. Waiting just a while allows your tooth enamel to re-harden.
This means that when you do brush your teeth you will not be brushing soft tooth enamel which could cause more damage to it. Rinsing your mouth after you have brushed with a fluoride mouthwash will help provide a little bit of extra protection. Otherwise just brush your teeth with good quality fluoride toothpaste and spit out the excess but don't rinse. This ensures any toothpaste remaining on your teeth will give little more protection.
It used to be quite common for a woman to lose a tooth or two during pregnancy but nowadays that expectation is completely unfounded. With the proper dental care, you can make sure you maintain a healthy mouth right throughout pregnancy, giving your baby the best possible start in life.