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  Pregnancy Dental Health

How Dental Health Affects Pregnancy

When is brushing your teeth not just about freshening your breath? When you're pregnant. Potentially one of the most overlooked aspects of a healthy pregnancy, the health of your teeth and gums play a key role in keeping yourself healthy when you are expecting. Keep in mind that the jury is still out on some of the hard core data surrounding poor dental care during pregnancy, but when you consider what research has already found, perhaps brushing and flossing will take on even more importance.

When the teeth are neglected, bacteria in and around the gum line will begin to build up. Over time, bacteria go to work in places that you may not notice, as these tiny invaders have access to not only your teeth, but your body's blood supply. Burrowing deep below the gum line, bacteria release toxins to break down tissue and tooth enamel as they create cavities and infection. As this infection develops, periodontal disease can set in, taking on a variety of forms. No matter how it gets there, these bacteria may find it easy to move throughout your body and trigger inflammation in other places once they gain access to the body's blood supply below the gum line.

In men, some research has linked poor oral health to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. In women who are pregnant, the link has connected higher rates of preterm birth, preeclampsia (complicated high blood pressure) and low birth weight babies to periodontal infections. What is believed to have its origins in the tricky process of inflammation, these bacteria are triggering "irritations" throughout the body-even reaching to your uterus, blood vessels, and your baby as well.

It can be easy to neglect your gums when you are pregnant especially when you consider the increase in blood supply, which may make them more likely to bleed when you brush and floss. It's normal for this to happen, but it certainly doesn't mean that you can skimp on your morning routine. If all that bleeding makes you nauseated, try waiting a bit after you wake up before you brush-giving your body time to overcome those early morning waves of sickness before you add a toothbrush to the mix. Once you have tackled the morning challenge, remember to use a soft toothbrush, and use it gently. Flossing is still equally important, so do your best to floss daily and brush at least twice a day.

If you haven't already, make a point to see your dentist every six months, and make an extra effort when you're pregnant. If you are early in your pregnancy, make sure your dentist knows so that you can opt-out of any x-rays during your visit. If you must have any x-rays, your abdomen may be shielded with a lead apron to protect your baby from the rays.

What's hiding in your mouth may seem like a minor problem until those tiny invaders find ways to complicate your life, and potentially your pregnancy. Taking steps now to prevent gum disease could mean a better chance of a healthy pregnancy and more robust baby in the end.

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