We all have certain bacteria that live in our mouths. As long as the gum tissue surrounding our teeth is healthy, the bacteria cannot pass into our blood stream. Many people are not aware that they have bleeding ulcerated gums because the hidden inside lining of the gum tissue that is against the tooth, may be infected. Unless the toothbrush or floss disturbs this tissue, the person may be unaware that there is a problem. The tissue may be ulcerated deeper under the gum tissue in hard to reach places, also. As the bacteria grow and form colonies in these areas, they pass directly into the bloodstream of the pregnant mother causing preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.
Studies have linked the mouth bacteria, P. gingivalis, as the culprit in causing low birth weight babies. There have been antibodies found in the amniotic fluids responding to the bacteria from the mouth. Toxins from the bacteria enter the bloodstream and cross over to the fetus, resulting in preterm delivery. Studies have shown that pregnant women who have gum disease are seven times more likely to have a baby born too small and too early.
So what can a pregnant woman do to protect herself and her unborn baby?
- Have a thorough examination by the dentist to measures the pockets of the gum tissue and check for bleeding.
- Receive professional instruction on brushing and flossing correctly to eliminate the plaque formations that ulcerate the gum tissue. Daily home care technique and frequency is the most important element in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
- Have the teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist every 3 months during pregnancy.