Mums-to-be should make sure their oral health does not deteriorate following a new study strengthening the link between gum disease and high blood pressure during pregnancy. The research found that women who had severe perio disease were five times more likely to suffer with hypertension (high blood pressure), a condition that can result in maternal deaths, miscarriages and preterm delivery problems.
Researchers also discovered two particularly high risk groups. Women younger than 20 and those older than 35 were five times more likely to suffer from severe gum disease and hypertension in pregnancy.
Around one in ten mums-to-be will develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, and is common in one in four first-time mums. High blood pressure in pregnancy is usually mild and often does not cause any problems for mother or baby. However, the earlier in pregnancy blood pressure goes up, the greater is the chance of developing pre-eclampsia later on.
Previous research has identified potential links between poor oral health and issues during pregnancy, yet there have been question marks raised over the credibility of these. Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes the results of this study should open the door for further investigation into the link.
Although most adults suffer from gum disease at some point in their lives, severe gum disease accounts for more lost teeth than tooth decay does does. ”For some women, teeth become less of a priority while they are pregnant and this can also prove a big factor,” Dr Carter added.
“Many women find that hormonal changes cause their oral health to get worse during pregnancy. Some women find their gums bleed more easily, while people who already have gum disease may find that it progresses more rapidly.
“If you are pregnant, it really is vital to take extra care of your mouth. You should brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and take extra care that you are brushing for the full two minutes and clean every surface of every tooth. You should also clean between the teeth using interdental brushes. Visit the dentist regularly as often as they recommend, and cut down on the frequency of sugary foods and drinks.”
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