There is a lot of emphasis on expectant mothers taking care of themselves during pregnancy, and providing important nutrients and care for both their own health and that of their baby during that formative time. One aspect of health care that is sometimes overlooked about prenatal care is oral hygiene. Here are some reasons why it is an important part of good health for both mother and child.
Bacteria can pass from you to your baby.
During pregnancy, it is possible for bacteria to travel through your bloodstream to reach your developing baby. Bacteria which naturally occur in your mouth can build up without good oral hygiene, and can end up reaching your unborn baby. Hormone changes during pregnancy can make it harder for your body to fight bacteria, therefore increasing your risks for infections and plaque buildup.
Gum disease can endanger your baby.
Pregnancy hormones increase the blood flow to your gums, often making them more sensitive and inclined to become swollen or irritated. This common condition is called pregnancy gingivitis, and if left untreated can advance to periodontal disease. Studies show that expectant mothers with gum disease have more risk of delivering babies prematurely, with low birth weight, or with infections.
Your baby’s teeth can be affected.
Eating a healthy diet including nutritious vitamins and minerals, as well as practicing good dental hygiene, will help your baby’s oral development. Infants begin the early stages of tooth development while you are in your first trimester of pregnancy, and your diet and dental care may impact your baby’s teeth.
Your health may be at risk too.
Periodontal disease that causes infections in your body can make you more susceptible to preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure and protein in your urine during the later stages of pregnancy. Preeclampsia can be fatal in some cases.