Pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning to avoid premature delivery

Pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning to avoid premature delivery

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

May 23, 2022

If you’re planning to become pregnant, -you are somewhat mentally prepared to enjoy this beautiful journey of motherhood. But yes of course there are so many concerns and thoughts running across your mind. And if it’s your first time naturally your anxiety and fears are valid. As you hear stories from your dear ones, relatives, and friends there are a mix of emotions of excitement, happiness and nervousness, and fear.

But with all this looking at the bigger picture all you can think about is the little one coming into your life and you want to just do everything right. You want to avoid certain things to protect the health of your baby right from the initial days. You may want to know the dos and don’ts of everything to protect your baby and wish for his/ her good health even before getting pregnant. Don’t you?

One such thing you could do to work towards your baby’s health is getting pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning. You must be wondering why? What does teeth cleaning have to do with your pregnancy? Let’s find out

Pregnancy-related concerns

pre-pregnancy dent care of lady

Most women are nervous when they plan on getting pregnant. One reason is that they fear they will have problems during pregnancy. Common fears include miscarriage, premature delivery, and the possibility of developing diabetes or high blood pressure. Pregnancy is a time of many concerns for women, among which miscarriage and premature delivery are the most feared. Women naturally do not want themselves or their babies to experience any complications.

Studies show premature delivery to be one of the most common complications of pregnancy that women fear as they approach their due date. This of course does depend on other factors as well. Definitely a few things are out of our control, but here we are to tell you there is a way you could possibly avoid this complication with a simple measure.

Studies suggest good oral hygiene could be way to reduce the chances of premature delivery of the baby. How? According to several studies conducted, researchers discovered that women with poor oral hygiene are more likely to have a premature delivery.

Gum infections affecting your body

Studies have shown that periodontal infections (gum infections) can affect systemic health. That means gum infections are related to diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health issues. This means gum infections also do affect the overall health of the expecting mother in many ways. Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes which increase the risk of the expectant mother to develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and periodontal disease in the mouth.

Poor gum health

It all starts with poor gum health! Hormonal fluctuations during these times can take a more serious toll on your oral health like gum inflammation, swelling of gums or pregnancy tumour. But why does this actually happen?

The first trimester of pregnancy is a time when hormonal changes during pregnancy make it more likely for you to have plaque and calculus buildup in your mouth. These are the little hard deposits that can build up on your teeth and cause gum disease.

This can lead to hormonal irritation of the gums, and the resulting inflammation can cause bleeding gums, which can be quite painful. Inflammation of the gums also slows down the healing process and makes your gums bleed even with the slightest of pressure while brushing your teeth.

Gum inflammation

gum-inflammation-closeup-young-woman-showing-swollen-and-pluffy-bleeding-gums

The degree of gum inflammation during pregnancy is dependent on the amount of plaque and calculus buildup in your mouth. This buildup along the gum line contains a lot of gram-negative bacteria that release endotoxins. These toxins cause irritation to the gums around the teeth and make your gums super sensitive. Gums become swollen, puffy, bulky, red, tender, and painful. The surge in the progesterone and estrogen levels in the body also contributes to the increase in the bacterial levels in the mouth.

Mouth becomes a bacterial reservoir

Hormonal fluctuations and increase in the progesterone and estrogen levels make it favorable for the bacteria to multiply in the mouth. These bacteria are known to cause pregnancy gingivitis in roughly 60-70% of pregnant women.

Bacteria that cause pregnancy gingivitis/periodontitis – Prevotella intermedia, P gingivalis, P. melaninogenica release toxins that cause serious inflammation and could cause burning sensations in the mouth.

If ignored, these gum infections can progress to more advanced gum infections like periodontitis faster. More number of bacteria now enter the bloodstream of the mother and circulate in the blood.

Bacteria targets the uterus

Bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and make their way to your baby within no time. When it does make its way to your baby, it releases toxins that target your uterus as well as your baby. This may lead to problems later on in life for both you and your child.

The bacteria can also affect heart function in babies by causing inflammation in heart tissue, which leads to high blood pressure and heart failure in children who are born prematurely or have low birth weight.

How does it cause premature birth?

Increased levels of bacteria in the mouth would mean increased levels of endotoxins released by them. Endotoxins released by (Prevotella intermedia, P gingivalis, P. melaninogenica) these bacteria stimulate the production of cytokines and prostaglandins in the mother’s blood that stimulate labour pro-inflammatory mediators. These inflammatory mediators then cross the placenta and can cause fetal toxicity which leads to premature delivery.

Studies also prove another theory that causes premature delivery is high concentrations of these cytokines are responsible for the rupture of uterine membranes which causes premature birth and retardation.

How does teeth cleaning help?

Pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning to avoid premature birth

Teeth cleaning aims to reduce the bacterial levels in the mouth by getting rid of plaque and calculus deposits in and around your teeth and gums. But what exactly happens during this procedure?

Teeth cleaning is a procedure where food debris, bad bacteria, micro-organisms, plaque, and calculus are flushed out from all the surfaces of the teeth and around the gumlines. After this, a teeth polishing procedure is done to reduce to prevent future adherence of plaque on teeth and gums.

Regular teeth cleaning, thus keeps the gums healthy as elimination of the plaque does not allow any kind of gum irritations and swellings to occur.

Gums remain tight and do not permit the bacteria to enter the bloodstream of the mother. A healthy oral environment further reduces bacterial levels in the mouth. Pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning keeps bacterial levels in check and does not allow them to enter the mother’s bloodstream and avoids premature delivery. This reduces the number of endotoxins (cytokines and prostaglandins) released by the bacteria reducing the chances of premature childbirth.

The bottom line

All the above-mentioned reasons for the premature delivery of the baby relate to poor oral hygiene. Thus pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning to maintain good oral hygiene throughout the rest of the pregnancy keeps the bacteria levels down and reduce the risk of preterm labor.

Highlights:

  • Pre-pregnancy dental care is important to keep your teeth and gums healthy for the sake of your future baby.
  • Dental care before pregnancy is a must as most dental treatments and procedures cannot be done during the pregnancy phase and most emergencies cannot be dealt with due to the risk of harming the baby.
  • Pregnancy causes a lot of hormonal changes and affects the oral health of the expecting mother.
  • Pregnancy gingivitis and periodontitis (gum infections during pregnancy) could increase the risk of pre-mature childbirth.
  • Poor oral hygiene increases the levels of bad bacteria in the mouth, which enter the bloodstream of the baby and can cause premature childbirth.
  • Getting a pre-pregnancy teeth cleaning keeps bacterial levels in check and does not allow them to enter the mother’s bloodstream and avoids premature delivery.
  • Keep your mouth healthy to keep your baby healthy.

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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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