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Guest Post: Gum Disease and Premature Birth – Why Dental Care Matters During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but also one that can be quite stressful. While there are already a million things on your mind, it’s important to make sure that your dental care is one of them. The fact is that many women don’t realize that poor oral hygiene can have a negative effect on their pregnancy which could include premature birth. Don’t worry though, as a dentist with over 20 years of experience I’ve worked with countless women to manage their oral health during their pregnancy. Today, we’ll look at one of the most common issues pregnant women experience, gum disease, and what you can do to prevent it. 

What Is Gum Disease and What Causes it?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums that initially causes red, swollen gums and bleeding. Left untreated, the disease will progress and can lead to serious issues such as tooth loss. 

In terms of causes, the biggest one is poor oral hygiene. That’s not all though, things like hormones, genetics, aggressive brushing, and more can also cause the disease. For pregnant women, hormones are the big issue as changes in them during pregnancy make you much more susceptible to the disease. In fact, almost 40% of pregnant women will develop gum disease during their pregnancy, so this is a very common issue. 

How Does Gum Disease Affect Pregnant Women

The big concern is that gum disease has been linked to premature birth. The bacteria that causes the disease can actually spread to your bloodstream, and from there travel throughout your body down to your placenta and uterus. Once there, it can cause a multitude of problems including premature birth. 

It’s important to recognize that this is the case for untreated gum disease. If caught and treated early you may stop the harmful effects of the disease. 

How To Prevent Gum Disease 

The best way to prevent gum disease is to simply take your dental care seriously. You want to make sure you’re brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash each and every day. Each one of these steps is key to helping prevent the disease. 

You should also be watching your diet and limiting your sugar intake. Sugar is how bacteria in your mouth feed, so the less you eat the less opportunity you give them to grow. 

You also want to make sure that you’re keeping up with your dental visits. They will be able to help make sure your mouth is healthy, and provide treatment for any issues that they find. As mentioned above, your hormones can put you at higher risk for gum disease so even with proper at home care it’s possible to develop the disease. That’s why going to the dentist is so important as they will be able to catch and treat any problems right away. If you have any questions or concerns please discuss with your health care professional. 

While gum disease is a serious issue for pregnant women, it’s luckily easy to prevent and treat. Keep up with your at home care, visit your dentist regularly, and watch for issues and you’ll be well on your way to a happy, healthy birth. 

This post was written by Dr. Amanda Tavoularis. Dr. Tavoularis brings over 2 decades of expertise to the Dentably team and is committed to providing information and care to women and expecting mothers. She studied at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and continued her education at the Kois Center. With a son of her own, Dr. Amanda knows first hand how to take care of your dental health during pregnancy. Additional information about dental care and pregnancy can be found at Dr. Tavoularis website:


Williams RC.  Periodontal disease.  N Engl J Med.  1990 Feb 8;322(6):373-82.

Ramos-E-Silva M, Martins NR, Kroumpouzos G.  Oral and vulvovaginal changes in pregnancy.  Clin Dermatol. 2016 May-Jun;34(3):353-8.

Sanz M, Kornman K, Working group 3 of joint EFP/AAP workshop. Periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes: consensus report of the Joint EFP/AAP Workshop on Periodontitis and Systemic Diseases. J Clin Periodontol 2013; 40 Suppl 14:S164.

Schwendicke F, Karimbux N, Allareddy V, Gluud C. Periodontal treatment for preventing adverse pregnancy outcomes: a meta- and trial sequential analysis. PLoS One 2015; 10:e0129060.

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