Monday, May 12, 2008

Healthy Gums...Healthy Pregnancy


Thinking about getting pregnant? See your dentist. Not the advice you were expecting to get? Of course, it's also recommended that you receive preconception counseling from your doctor about health issues you need to get under control before you get pregnant. But seeing your dentist is just important. Why?



Research is showing time and again that gum health is the window to the body's inflammation level. If you have gum disease (a step beyond gingivitis where the bacteria actually slips below the gum line) the bacteria apparently sets off an inflammatory response in the body, which can set off a cascade of events which can lead to preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, characterized by extreme water retension, especially in the face and hands, and high blood pressure, can escalate into eclampsia, which can be fatal.



Gum disease in pregnancy can increase the risk of premature delivery up to seven times!
According to Dr. Don Callan DDS, a periodontist who researches dental bacteria in Arkansas, "There is definitely a relationship between preterm birth and bacterial toxins that migrate into the rest of the body, which can activate premature labor. Most dentists are also now aware of research that suggests that harmful bacteria under the gum line can actually damage the heart, increase symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and damage artificial joints."

These factors increase risk of gum disease:


Hormonal changes: pregnancy, puberty, menopause
Smoking
Diabetes (there is some evidence that uncontrolled gum disease can actually lead to diabetes.)
Stress
Genetics
Clenching or grinding of teeth
Obesity

So before you get pregnant, take care of your gums and teeth. Get your teeth cleaned and brush and floss regularly. If you're already pregnant, see your dental hygienist once or twice during the pregnancy. Floss at least once a day and brush after every meal.



For more information:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_64317.html

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