Monday, January 21, 2013

Serving Pregnant Women - An Upstream Approach To Preventing Cavities

Serving Pregnant Women - An Upstream Approach To Preventing Cavities

I found an interesting article with the above title at

The article has a good side because it acknowledges that babies generally get their first oral bacterial from their mothers (or any other caregiver).   Babies are not born with oral bacteria.

Instead, they generally get that bacteria from whoever it is that cares for them.   However, the article seemed to suggest that fixing / preventing cavities would prevent or help to prevent the cavity producing bacteria from colonizing the babies mouth.

I think if the bacteria are there they will get passed on, even if the mother has no active cavities.   Instead, prevention would be better served in 'shifting' the kind of bacteria in the mother's mouth.

You don't hear many dental professionals talking about that concept and neither did this article.   However, it is similar to the concept that you hear in regular health care circles.  That is the 'replacing' the bacteria in the gut that are destroyed by antibiotics.

The mouth, interesting enough is part of the alimentary canal.  The Alimentary canal is the portion of our body devoted to the movement of food through our body and removing nutrients from that food.  The same system that the bacteria in the gut, just mentioned, reside in. 


Shifting That Bacteria

So, how do you shift the bacteria to a healthier population?   This is something that the article seemed to overlook while promoting the virtue of extinguishing existing cavities.   Which is still a good idea, in any case.

Since, this is not really an area that is actively researched, for whatever reason,  it may not be well documented.

However,  some professionals  suggest that the use of 6 - 10 pieces of xylitol gum (.72 grams of xylitol per peice)  daily, over a period of about 6 months or so, may shift the kind of bacteria that inhabit your mouth over time.

Yogurt, as mentioned by Japanese researchers, may help to retard gum disease through a simple concept.  It seems to work like it does in the human gut.   You prevent a 'bad bacteria' population from colonizing the mouth by promoting the colonization of 'good bacteria'    Good bacteria would be the kind that don't cause gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.   So eating yogurt may be helpful. 

Balancing the mouth pH.  The anaerobic or bad bacteria like an acidic mouth.  It helps them to multiply more rapidly.   Theoretically, a high pH mouth may work against the 'bad' bacteria and promote the 'good' bacteria.   An 'acidic' mouth may do just the opposite.

Oxygenation, may be helpful in reducing harmful anaerobic (oxygen hating) bacteria.  This in turn can promote the oxygen loving (and generally healthy) bacteria.

I wish the article above had touched on these important concepts.   But it did not.  Instead it focused on how to get dental treatment TO pregnant women.

Prevention is for everyone and starting on prevention before pregnancy would be even better! 

Pregnant Women Are At An Elevated Risk For Gum Disease


The jury is out on exactly WHY this happens.  But it probably has something to do with hormonal changes and / or the fact that the fetus is really taking a LOT of nutrients from the mother.  This may have the impact of weakening her immune system somewhat.

But one thing is clear, any gum disease in the mother increases the risk of having a low birth weight and / or prematurely born baby.   So, it is worth learning more on the topic of gum disease

Potentially Helpful To You:

The book:  What You Should Know About Gum Disease. 

How To Stop Gum Disease In 4 Easy Steps. 

this special tool


I just spoke in general terms here, specific questions about your unique dental health situation should be directed to your doctor or dentist.  

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