ADA Stresses Good Oral Health During Pregnancy

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With Mother's Day around the corner, the American Dental Association (ADA) wants to remind mothers-to-be that maintaining good oral health is an important part of overall health, especially during pregnancy.

Research suggests there may be an association between maternal gum disease and pre-term birth and low birth weight babies. In addition, a recent study says that pregnant women with gum disease may be more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

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"Good oral health habits are an important part of a healthy lifestyle," says Sally Cram, D.D.S., ADA consumer advisor and periodontist in Washington, D.C. "If you are planning a pregnancy, schedule a dental checkup for a cleaning. If you are pregnant, continue your regular dental visits. Be sure to inform your dentist if you are pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant."

In addition to regular dental visits, the ADA recommends eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining daily oral hygiene by brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between teeth at least once a day with floss or an interdental cleaner. The ADA recommends that consumers look for oral healthcare products that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal of Acceptance is designed to help consumers make informed decisions about the safety and effectiveness of dental products.

"Pregnancy often causes food cravings, and constant snacking on sugary food and beverages can lead to a buildup of dental plaque," explains Ada Cooper, D.D.S., ADA consumer advisor and a general dentist in New York. "In addition, the rising hormone levels that accompany pregnancy can irritate gums already battling plaque buildup. Some dentists might recommend more frequent cleanings during the second or early third trimester to control gingivitis."

Good oral health habits are not only valuable during pregnancy, but after pregnancy as well because cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from mother to child through contact such as sharing utensils or kissing.

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