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Your Oral Health

A Pregnant Woman's Guide to Healthy Gums

What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About Healthy Gums  

A healthy mouth is important for women and their unborn children. There is a link between a mother's gum health and the health of her unborn baby. Women with gum disease are at risk of delivering a baby too early. This is because the infection in the mother’s mouth affects hormone levels that can cause early labor. A baby born too early has an increased risk of death and lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung and digestive problems, and vision and hearing loss.  

Causes of Gum Disease

Bacteria called plaque is the cause of gum disease. Plaque that is not removed daily by brushing and flossing can cause an infection called gingivitis or red, swollen gums. Hormone changes in your body during pregnancy can also increase your chances of getting gingivitis. Other things that put you at risk of getting gum disease are smoking and poor nutrition.  

Signs of Gum Disease  

  • A bad taste in mouth
  • Continual bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed while brushing
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Tartar on teeth

Reduce Your Risk of Gum Disease  

Every mother wants to reduce her risk of having an unhealthy baby. Follow the guidelines below, and be sure to visit a dentist right away.  
  • Brush and floss daily
  • Eat healthy foods and snacks such as fruits, vegetables, and cheese
  • Take vitamins your doctor prescribes
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol
  • Get regular dental care

Brush and Floss for a Healthy Smile  

One of the easiest ways to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss your teeth every day. When you brush and floss, you break up plaque before it can stick to your teeth. Plus, you’ll be less likely to get cavities. Brush your teeth at least twice each day: once in the morning after breakfast and once before you go to sleep. Flossing helps you clean between your teeth. It removes food and plaque from the spots you can’t reach with your brush. Your gums may be sore or bleed at first. Don’t worry, they will heal. It should stop once the plaque is removed.  

One More Tip  

Studies have shown that mothers often pass bacteria from their mouths to their newborn child by kissing them or tasting their food. Bacteria can cause tooth decay or cavities later in life. You can lower bacteria levels in your mouth by chewing gum with Xylitol after meals and snacks. This will reduce the chance that you will pass bacteria onto your child.  

What is Xylitol?  

Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables and is even made in the human body. It stops acid from forming in the mouth and helps kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Xylitol is used in chewing gum, mints, throat lozenges, cough drops, children's chewable multivitamins, toothpaste, and mouthrinse found in your local stores. Check the product labels for mention of Xylitol.