Don't Ignore Your Oral Health – The Mouth Body Connection
The test came back and its positive youre pregnant. Your mind is rattled with excitement, and you immediately create a “to-do” list. Does your “to-do” list include a trip to your dentist? Well, it should. A visit to the dentist is an important step in ensuring your health, as well as an on-time delivery and safe arrival of your most precious cargo yet.
Your teeth and gums are affected by pregnancy, just like other tissues in your body. About 50% of women experience something called pregnancy gingivitis, causing uncomfortable swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. But, did you know that the health of your gums may also affect the health of your baby-to-be?
Studies have shown that pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby thats born too early and too small. Your dentist can easily detect and remedy this problem, while also alleviating any uncomfortable symptoms, such as gum swelling and tenderness that may have arisen as the result of your pregnancy. So, as you make your way through your “to-do” list, remember to check off that visit to the dentist. It can benefit both you and your unborn baby.
Pregnancy is not the only condition where infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body and increase the risk of illness. Periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, can cause oral bacterial byproducts to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin infections. Research suggests that
People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those who dont have periodontal disease. Studies show that inflammatory effects from periodontal disease allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to make proteins such as C-reactive protein.
C-reactive protein inflames arteries, increases plaque build up and may even cause blood clots that contribute to clogged arteries, heart attacks and strokes.
Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study in particular people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group who had not suffered a stroke.
The relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways. People with diabetes are more likely than those without diabetes to develop periodontal disease, especially if their diabetes is not under control. This infection can increase blood sugar and put them at greater risk for diabetic complications. In addition, its been shown that periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
So, if you want to take one more step in ensuring a longer, healthier life for you and your family, it makes sense to visit your dentist twice a year to be sure you dont have a periodontal infection. This is especially important if you have noticed any symptoms of periodontal disease, have a family member with periodontal disease (it can be transmitted from one member to another), are thinking of becoming pregnant, have heart disease, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, get it treated as quickly as you can.