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Mothers-to-be should be thinking about their dental health as well as their general health, experts have suggested.
Speaking to KTIV, Dr Kim Boggess suggested that brushing, flossing and regular check-ups are steps that women should take before and during pregnancy, if they do not already.
She noted that hormone changes can make gums more susceptible to bleeding and disease.
While there are other recommendations to pregnant women that tend to take precedence over good dental care, Dr Boggess said: "There is definitely a relationship between periodontal disease or oral infection" and a difficult labor.
Experts suggest that anaesthetics and x-rays should be avoided until the baby is born, as the possible effects of such procedures are currently unknown.
However, emergencies, such as an abscessed tooth, should be dealt with immediately.
A report from the Children Now Oral Health Policy Brief found that 18 per cent of premature births in Stanislaus Country, California, were attributable to poor oral health in the mother.
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