Why Pregnant Women Need Better Dental Care
It is becoming more and more clear that oral health is strongly linked to overall health. This correlation becomes even more important when considering the health of pregnant women. A recent study indicates that a high proportion of pregnant women are currently not receiving proper dental care.
This trend is particularly troubling when looking at previous studies that have indicated that gum disease in pregnant women increases the risk of prematurity and low birth weight. Due to an increase in estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, pregnant women are more susceptible to developing gingivitis. The reason for this is because the rise in hormones causes an increase in blood flow to the gum tissues, which makes the gums more sensitive and vulnerable. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is highly treatable. If gingivitis is not treated in time, though, it will develop into periodontitis. At this point, irreversible damage will occur to the gums and teeth. The gum disease infection can also spread throughout the body, potentially compromising the success of the pregnancy.
It was shown that young pregnant women who live in poverty were less likely to visit the dentist, and thus suffer from poor oral health, whereas women with higher levels of education and income reported better oral health. It is important to note that many states offer Medicaid dental coverage for pregnant women. Researchers indicate that a better effort may be needed in order to let pregnant women in poverty know about the dental health resources that are available to them.
If you are a pregnant woman who has not yet been to the dentist for a dental exam and cleaning, contact our office to set up an appointment.
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