We hope to get pregnant this year. What should we do to prepare for the pregnancy?
You may want to call your gynecologist for a preconceptional counseling visit. At that time your physician can assess your general health.
You should also visit your dentist.
Periodontal disease is thought to be the cause of up to 20 percent of preterm deliveries. Being born too early puts a baby at greater risk for long-term health problems and developmental delays.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums.
The infection can travel to the mother’s blood and create what is called a systemic infection (affecting the whole body.)
The symptoms of periodontal disease are gums that bleed when you brush or floss, red swollen or tender gums, persistent bad breath or bad taste, formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums, loose or shifting teeth and changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
Many people do not realize that they have periodontal disease. When we are in our 20s and early 30s, prime childbearing years, it is easy to ignore our teeth.
Many people stop going to the dentist for regular cleanings because either they don’t have insurance or think that brushing is really all they need to do.
Taking care of your teeth and gums is an investment in your total health. One is usually able to avoid developing periodontal disease by making wise food decisions, brushing and flossing, seeing your dentist on a regular schedule, and knowing the risk factors that contribute to periodontal disease.
Those risk factors are: smoking or chewing tobacco, diabetes, family history of periodontal disease, a weakened immune system, stress, and certain medications which include oral contraceptives, steroids, blood pressure drugs and some cancer fighting drugs.
When you take care of yourself you are taking care of your baby at the same time.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Family & Friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.