Dental Health Should be a Priority for Pregnant Women

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Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy increase the risk of dental health problems and dentists and public health experts are eager to encourage pregnant women to visit their dentist on a regular basis.

Several studies have found a link between gum disease and complications during pregnancy. A study carried out by Dr Steven Offenbacher, from the Dental School at the University of North Carolina, confirmed a direct link between gum disease and premature birth in pregnant women.

The study involved two groups of pregnant women, one group that rinsed their mouths with water and another that rinsed with mouthwash. Of the group that washed with mouthwash only 1 in 20 had a premature baby, in contrast to 1 in 4 for the group that rinsed with water.

Pregnant women have a higher risk of gum disease as a result of hormonal changes in the body. In order to prevent gum disease pregnant women are advised to have regular check-ups during pregnancy. Dental care is free of charge on the NHS for pregnant women and women who have had a baby within the last 12 months.

A good oral hygiene routine is also important and women are advised to ensure that they brush their teeth twice a day, rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash and floss each day to keep oral diseases at bay.

Signs of gum disease to look out for include swollen, red gums, bleeding, especially when brushing teeth, and soreness in the gums. Dentists advise patients to arrange an appointment as soon as possible if symptoms develop.

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