Oral health is critical for pregnant women

While everyone knows it's important to take good care of their pearly whites by brushing two or three times daily, recent research indicates that this advice is twice as important for pregnant women. A new study published in the Journal of Periodontology and Journal of Clinical Periodontology indicates that periodontal disease, or gum disease, is associated with birth defects and complications, including premature birth and low birth weight.

According to the Times of India, gum disease has been associated with a number of other illnesses, including diabetes, heart conditions and other systemic diseases, however, the research provides a concrete link to gum disease in expectant mothers affecting children at birth.

This is significant, as, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, low birth weight in children can also cause long-term issues such as delayed motor skills and social growth as well as learning disabilities.

How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
Gum disease, especially at its early stages, can be difficult to detect. That's one reason why keeping up with your regular dental appointments, especially while pregnant, is so important.

"Tenderness, redness, or swollen gums are a few indications of periodontonal disease," said Nancy Newhouse, D.D.S., M.S., president of the American Academy of Periodontology, according to the Times.  "Other symptoms include gums that bleed with toothbrushing or eating, gums that are pulling away from the teeth, bad breath, and loose teeth. These signs, especially during pregnancy, should not be ignored and may require treatment from a dental professional."

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist to determine the best course of action and get your gums healthy again.

What actions will you take to ward off gum disease during pregnancy? Share your ideas in the comments section!