Pregnancy

What you should know about pregnancy and oral health

Reviewed By: Rebecca Comstedt, RDH, BS

Date: September 19, 2019

DOES A HEALTHY MOUTH MATTER DURING PREGNANCY?

Within the past 10 years, the importance of good oral hygiene during pregnancy has become apparent. In 2010, a woman delivered a full term, still born baby; the bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum was discovered to be the causative agent in the baby’s demise. This specific bacteria is associated with periodontal disease (infection of the gums), and did in fact come from the mother’s gums. While this seems to be a rare occurrence, there is research to suggest this same bacteria is associated with preterm birth, preeclampsia and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE THIS BACTERIA?

Without salivary testing, you cannot know for sure. Signs that may indicate the presence of this bacteria in your mouth are bleeding and bone loss between your teeth. Bone loss can only be determined with an x-ray. However, there are other bacteria that can also cause bleeding and bone loss, without potential adverse pregnancy effects.

WHAT IS SALIVARY TESTING?

A sample of your oral bacteria is collected (generally by swishing a saline rinse, and spitting into a collection tube). This is sent to a lab where the specific bacterial strains are identified. These tests do not determine ALL of your oral bacteria, but they are looking specifically for the pathogenic strains.

WHERE CAN I GET THIS DONE?

At a Dentist’s office, or your MD’s office. The company OralDNA offers Providers free collection material and training. Depending on your location, this test will probably cost you between $135-170 (lab fee, shipping and collection fee). There are other companies that offer salivary testing, that your Dental provider may use.

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Don’t give this bacteria (or any pathogenic bacteria) an opportunity to cause an infection. Clean your mouth, especially under your gums (floss/Water flosser)!  See your Dental Hygienist at least two times during your pregnancy (some insurance companies realize the benefit of good oral health, and will pay for three cleanings during pregnancy!). An antiseptic mouth rinse is generally recommended, but many professionals recommend you avoid any with alcohol during pregnancy. CloSYS is a great, alcohol free option!

ARE THERE OTHER BACTERIA THAT CAUSE PREGNANCY IMPLICATIONS?

Yes, maybe. P gingivalis (another bacteria that may cause gum disease) was found to be present more often in woman who had difficulty conceiving, even if gum disease was not yet detected. If you are having trouble conceiving, you might consider a salivary test to look for this bacteria.

WHAT ABOUT X-RAYS DURING PREGNANCY?

The current recommendation is to take necessary x-rays to accurately diagnose one’s oral health status.

RDH’s; Login to the Dental Professional Pages for more info about Salivary Testing