Healthy Moms Share With Healthy Babies
It is such a sweet time in the life of a woman when she is carrying a child. There is a hope and an anticipation that words simply cannot explain. Deep calls unto deep in the space between the womb and the heart of a mother, an unexplainable whisper between mother and child with every heartbeat.
To be a mother is to give life. In giving life, everything between mother and baby is shared. The mother literally gives of herself to bring life to her child. Everything mom hears, feels, eats, breathes, is shared with her growing baby inside of her. Everything. This is a good thing when mom is sharing soft music and lullabies, nutritious fruits and vegetables, fresh air, and plenty of joy. This is not such a good thing when mom is sharing cigarette smoke, french fries and cheeseburgers, periodontal disease and infected teeth.
The connection between periodontal disease and poor birth outcomes has been studied for well over twenty years. This connection cannot be ignored. It has been shown time and again that periodontal infection, meaning an infection in the gum tissue and/or the bone surrounding the teeth, causes a direct risk for preterm births and low birth weight babies. Even more recently, the presence of an infected tooth in the mom has been related to low birth weight and preterm births. A tooth becomes infected when an area of decay extends into the innermost portion of the tooth, where the nerve and blood supply live. The toxins released from the bacteria kill the nerve and blood vessels, resulting in a dead, infected tooth.
Babies who are born prematurely, or have a low birth weight, have a much higher risk for multiple health complications. These complications will occur not only when the baby is an infant and child, but will also have the ability to extend into the adult years and throughout a lifetime.
Knowing that these complications exist is the first line of defense for any woman anticipating becoming pregnant. Even before she sees her obstetrician, it is incredibly important that she see her dentist. A thorough periodontal and dental exam should be performed. This should include a periodontal screening with microscopic evaluation of the plaque to determine the presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria. A cone beam CT scan should be performed and then evaluated for the presence of any dental infections that appear around the roots of the teeth. If any infection is noted, then proper treatment should be completed BEFORE pregnancy. This allows for the best possible health for the mother, which then means the best possible shared health for her baby.