Ready to have a baby? It’s time to pencil in a checkup — with your dentist.
Oral care is probably not first on the priority list when it comes to planning a pregnancy. But ask a doctor who has helped about 6,500 women bring their new bundles of joy into the world — including his fair share on camera — and he’ll tell you that taking care of teeth is key in helping ensure overall health.
High-risk pregnancy specialist Dr. Charles Hux, featured on the TLC series A Baby Story, said if a woman has had dental problems in the past, she definitely should see a dentist prior to the start of pregnancy.
Even if she hasn’t had problems with her teeth, it’s important to have them checked to ensure there isn’t any work that needs to be done, as dental problems and decay can result in high risk of premature labour and delivery, he said.
“That’s from infection that gets into the bloodstream from the oral cavity into the gums,” said Hux in an interview from central New Jersey. “If you have bacteria and you have a toothache and some sort of oral problem it’s a very common complication that the bacteria from your mouth will go right into your bloodstream.”
“It’s not only dangerous for pregnancy, it’s very dangerous for progressive heart disease,” he added. “It’s associated with much earlier onset of severe — and perhaps sometimes fatal — heart disease by having teeth that are not taken care of.”
But outside medical checkups aren’t just limited to oral care. Hux said women who have had any kind of medical condition they’ve been treated or received medication for elsewhere should consult with both their ob-gyn as well as their other doctors if they’re planning a pregnancy in the near future.
Dispensing advice on pregnancy to the masses is familiar territory for Hux, who has delivered about 650 multiples — ranging from twins to septuplets — during his career. He fielded pregnancy-related questions on a radio talk show in Philadelphia in the 1980s, and on talk show queen Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Network website for three years.
Since he sees about 1,500 to 2,000 women each year, he was planning to write brochures to address questions he found he was consistently asked — but decided to write a book instead.
In Nine Healthy Months, Hux offers advice on staying healthy during and after pregnancy. It’s the first in what’s slated to be a series of books in the 21st Century Pregnancy series.
One of the key areas of concern for Hux is obesity, which he said is at the top of the list of risks for other types of problems including blood pressure and diabetes. Risk of a stillborn baby or birth defects is much more common when women are overweight.
Women who weigh between 200 and about 230 pounds who go on a healthy diet four to six months prior to conceiving will probably lose between 10 and 20 pounds, meaning they’ll be off to a good start for the pregnancy and lower those potential risks, Hux said.
Women who are overweight don’t have to put on a lot of weight to have a healthy baby, Hux said.
Hux also recommends overweight women get tested at the beginning of the pregnancy for diabetes rather than later on so expectant moms can go on a diabetic diet immediately if needed.