Gum disease is caused by a chronic bacterial infection and can lead to bone loss, damaged gum tissue, and even tooth loss. Studies have shown that gum disease may also increase the risk of preterm birth and contribute to preeclampsia. "Overall, studies have concluded that the increased risk is anywhere from three to five times as great," says Dr. Gregg.
For controlling the plaque that builds up and holds the organisms that lead to gum disease, Dr. Gregg recommends brushing at least twice each day, flossing at least once a day, and limiting the amount of sugary foods eaten, particularly between meals.
Are You Eating Well?
According to Dr. Seibel, as many as 40 percent of women of reproductive age are deficient in essential vitamins such as folic acid.
"Every woman thinking of having a baby should start taking a prenatal vitamin before she conceives. These vitamins have to be on board before conception to prevent increasing the risk of miscarriage and birth defects such as spina bifida," Dr. Seibel says.
"A baby has its own skeleton and that calcium comes right from mom during pregnancy and from her breast milk afterward. It's one of the reasons women can develop poor teeth in pregnancy," explains Dr. Seibel. The calcium used to help your growing baby comes from everywhere in your body. The baby also develops as a result of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from your diet. "So immediately after a pregnancy, women should ideally use the next nine months or more to rebuild and replenish themselves. The better shape she is in, the lower the risks for her baby," he adds.
Finally, Dr. Seibel says that if you become pregnant by accident immediately after your first child, you should not necessarily be concerned about your health or the baby's. He suggests taking supplemental calcium (1,000 mg daily) and a prenatal vitamin throughout and perhaps even three or more months after delivering. You can also consult a nutritionist and be certain your diet is optimal.