Healthy Teeth Help Moms Get Pregnant, Fight Low Birth-weight Deliveries, Says San Antonio Cosmetic Dentist

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From fertility – the ability to become pregnant - to protecting the baby from premature birth, low birth weight, and even neonatal death, recent research shows that gum disease is a vital concern from conception through breastfeeding, according to veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS.

San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS

San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS

Poor oral health is usually the last thing most women would suspect in having adverse affects on getting pregnant or having a baby with low birth weight

From getting pregnant to avoiding premature births and low birth weights, and even neonatal death, recent research shows that gum disease is a critical issue for would-be moms, according to veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Edward Camacho, DDS.

The links between gum disease and such serious, life-threatening conditions as heart disease, diabetes and other systemic diseases are well-established. It’s less well-known, however, that researchers in recent years have discovered strong links between pregnancy and oral health.

“While we are concerned about any ongoing infection and its impact on health, research is showing how important it is to have healthy teeth and gums throughout the pregnancy timeline,” Dr. Camacho said, noting that a visit to the dentist is an important part of the preparation for pregnancy and the prenatal period. “If a patient is pregnant or trying to get pregnant we do counsel them on the need for good oral hygiene including professional cleanings.”

Effects on fertility

Women with gum disease take an average of two months longer to become pregnant than those with healthy teeth and gums, according to a major new research study by Dr. Roger Hart, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Western Australia. The study of about 3500 women was reported at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology at the beginning of July 2011.

Hart found that the women without gum disease took an average of 5 months to get pregnant, while those with gum disease took 7 months. When separated by race, non-Caucasian women with gum disease took over a year to get pregnant.

“All women should . . . be encouraged to see their dentist to have any gum disease treated before trying to conceive. It is easily treated, usually involving no more than four dental visits,” Hart said. He also said that studies show that the treatment of periodontal disease does not harm mothers or babies.

Premature births, low birth weights

Researchers have found that gum disease is a significant factor in premature births and low birth weights, which have risen about 20 percent over the past two decades. A University of North Carolina Hospital study publicized in early 2010 showed that women with gum disease are seven times more likely to have low-birth weight infants that those with healthy teeth.

Complicating dental care during pregnancy is that hormonal changes in the mother make it highly likely she will develop some level of gum disease. Scientists estimate that between half to three-quarters of all pregnant women develop “pregnancy gingivitis,” which in turn can affect the pregnancy itself. This makes it crucial that pregnant women continue with regular dental visits and cleanings, Camacho said.

An early delivery or a low birth weight – defined as less than 5 pounds 8 ounces – increases risks of a number of conditions harmful to the child, including respiratory distress, bleeding in the brain, heart and intestinal problems, and serious eye problems.

And there may be even more serious issues with gum disease and prenatal health. While scientists say there is no cause for immediate alarm, in a case in 2010, researchers for the first time have definitely linked a mother’s gum disease to the death of her unborn child. Officials said the bacteria from the diseased gums entered the blood system through broken skin, and was carried to the fetus. The exact strain from the mother’s gums was found in the dead baby’s lungs and stomach.

"Poor oral health is usually the last thing most women would suspect in having adverse affects on getting pregnant or having a baby with low birth weight,” Dr. Camacho said. “The mindset that the teeth don't really have anything to do overall health is slowly going by the wayside. As a dentist it is part of my job to educate patients about oral health and it is my commitment as a health practitioner to provide patients with data on overall wellness."

COMPANY INFORMATION:

Camacho's practice, Cosmetic Dentistry of San Antonio, is a full-service cosmetic dental practice, specializing in Invisalign clear braces, top-quality dental veneers, dental implants, dental crowns and dental bridges, as well as a full line of restorative procedures and preventative care.

16535 Huebner (at Bitters) Suite 102
Valencia Village Shopping Center
San Antonio, Texas 78248
(210) 493-9944

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