July 18, 2018
Health & Fitness
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OB-GYNs Encourage Pregnant Patients To See Their Dentists

Dr. Jeffrey Cranska
Dr. Jeffrey Cranska's picture
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October 4, 2017

A woman’s health care needs change throughout her life. Different concerns exist during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and post-menopause.

In July, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement advising patients to see a dentist during pregnancy. The ACOG confirmed that teeth cleanings, local anesthesia and X-rays (with shielding of the abdomen and thyroid) are safe for pregnant women.

How can a woman’s oral health affect the overall health of the body?

Oral health care improves a woman’s general health throughout her lifetime. Some progression of gum disease (periodontitis) is present in 70 percent of adults. Periodontitis, the more serious and destructive form of the disease, is present in nearly one out of four women ages 30 to 54. Links exist between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.

What are periodontitis and periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround teeth and it is caused by the accumulation of bacteria (long-term plaque). The disease is progressive, causing the structures that support teeth to break down (gums, jaw bone and attachment to the roots). As gums are damaged, pockets develop around the teeth. Untreated, more gum is destroyed and infection spreads down the roots to infect bone. Even healthy teeth become loose, fall out or need to be extracted. Periodontitis is the primary cause of adults losing their teeth.

Gingivitis is the milder and reversible form of periodontal disease, with no bone loss, yet.

What are the warning signs that I have periodontal disease?

·         Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing

·         Red, swollen or painful gums

·         Gums that pull away from teeth

·         Longer teeth with receding gums

·         Bad breath (halitosis)

·         Bad taste

·         Loose or separating permanent teeth

·         Change in the fit of existing partial dentures

It is possible to have the disease and not have the warning signs. There is no pain until the teeth loosen and move when chewing or until abscess (pus) forms.

What factors increase my risk of periodontal disease?

·         Smoking or chewing tobacco

·         Diabetes mellitus

·         Poor nutrition

·         Different types of medications

·         Defective fillings, some missing teeth, bad bite

·         Pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives

What concerns should I have if I’m pregnant or thinking about having a baby?

Up to three out of four pregnant women have gingivitis due to hormonal changes. Untreated gingivitis can progress to chronic periodontitis. Oral infections need to be treated during pregnancy. Treated dental decay reduces the transmission of potentially decay-producing oral bacteria from mother to infants.

What is the treatment for my gum disease?

With periodontitis, you will need more than a routine cleaning. A comprehensive dental exam with a complete series of X-rays and probing will detect the level of pockets and bone loss present.

Different treatment methods include:

·         deep periodontal cleaning (scaling with anesthetic)

·         Non-surgical periodontal therapy

·         Laser Periodontal Therapy (LANAP)

·         Scalpel/suture surgery

Treatment is aimed to kill bacteria, reduce pockets, repair the damage, and regenerate bone and attachment tissues.

How can I avoid and prevent the start of periodontal disease?

·         Maintain good oral health

·         Brush and floss daily

·         Eat a well-balanced diet

·         Limit sweet snacks

·         Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco

·         Schedule regular dental visits for checkup exams, cleanings and X-rays

Oral health care is a part of overall general health and should be maintained before, during and after pregnancy and throughout a woman’s lifetime.

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