Expecting a child can be such an exciting and special time in a women’s life. However, it can also be a time of increased stress as well with all the changes she’s experiencing with her body and her life. With the many appointments, a typical pregnancy calls for it can be easy for an expectant mother to forget one of the most crucial for her health and the health of her growing baby…..her dental visit.
Studies have populated the journals of medicine, obstetrics, and periodontology for years discussing the relationship between periodontitis in expectant mothers and preterm, low-birth weight, babies. It is apparent that the medical community seems well versed in this correlation; however, the patient population seems to be undereducated in the importance of optimal oral hygiene and regular dental visits throughout all trimesters of their pregnancy.
In the dental office, we most commonly see our pregnant patients well into their 2nd trimester or sometimes even after they’ve delivered! By this time, periodontitis can already well-rooted in a patient’s mouth causing them to already be at increased susceptibility to the pathogens affecting their pregnancy or the unborn child. According to the Journal of Clinical Periodontology from January 2005:
“Pregnant women with findings of elevated amniotic fluid levels of PGE(II), IL-6, and IL-8 in the 15-20 weeks of pregnancy and with periodontitis are at high risk for premature birth. The implication of this is that periodontitis can induce a primary host response in the chorioamnion leading to preterm birth.”
(O. Dortbudak, E. Eberhardt, et al)
Though over the years there has been some debate on the safest trimester to see pregnant individuals, the literature over the past decade has increasingly encouraged medical and dental professionals to see pregnant women in their first trimester, if not sooner. Just as prenatal vitamins play a role in the development and are often recommended in the preconceiving period, healthy gums should be surprised as well!
Our goal, like yours, is to create an environment, whether in their tummies or their mouth that is healthy and conducive to a growing, developing child.