Healthy Gums for a Healthy Baby?

Yes!  Studies suggest that pregnant women who have a gum infection known as periodontitis have a higher risk of preterm labor and also of having a low birthweight baby.  That’s because bacteria in the infected gums can cause an increase in the hormones that trigger labor.  

October is both National Campaign for Healthier Babies month and National Dental Hygiene Month, so it’s a good time to take a look at the connection between healthy gums and healthy babies.

To help reduce the risk of preterm labor, and improve the health of a pregnant woman’s gums and teeth, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has a few easy tips for moms-to-be:

  • Floss daily and brush at least twice a day
  • Eat a diet low in processed sugars
  • Chew sugarless gum or gum made with xylitol
  • Have a professional teeth cleaning, ideally in the second trimester

Finally, for women who are experiencing a lot of nausea and vomiting during their pregnancy, it’s important to protect the teeth from erosion. The AAPD suggests that after vomiting, women rinse their mouth with a cup of water that’s mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda, then wait about an hour before brushing.

Need more extensive dental work while you’re pregnant?  The American Pregnancy Association (APA) suggests that if at all possible, wait until after your baby is born.  But if the problem needs immediate attention, the APA has some guidelines for what dental medications might affect your baby during your pregnancy.