Family, Orthodontic & Implant Dentistry


Family, Orthodontic & Implant Dentistry

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Researchers have found that periodontal disease in expectant mothers poses many risks for her unborn child. These include the potential to develop diabetes later on, making it important she seeks treatment before giving birth.

Periodontal disease is a chronic condition that starts with an infection in your gums (gingival). The bacteria causes destruction of tissue and bone, which eventually leads to loose teeth or even tooth loss.

Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes which increase the risk of expectant mothers to develop gingivitis and periodontal disease. These oral problems have been linked in many research studies with preeclampsia, low birth weight babies and premature births. The pregnant woman should seek immediate treatment for any signs or symptoms she may be experiencing so that she can reduce her chances of developing this pregnancy related complication before it even begins.

Reasons for the Connection

There are many different reasons why people may develop periodontal disease, and it could potentially affect both mother's health as well as her unborn child.

The following is an explanation of what this condition entails:

  • Prostaglandin – Periodontal disease appears to elevate levels of prostaglandin in mothers who are suffering from the more advanced forms of the condition. Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing compound found in one of the oral bacteria strains associated with periodontitis. Elevated levels of prostaglandin can cause the mother to give birth prematurely and deliver a baby with a low birth weight.
  • C - reactive protein (CRP) – This protein, which has been previously linked to heart disease, has now been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia and premature birth. Periodontal infections elevate C-reactive protein levels and amplify the body’s natural inflammatory response. Periodontal bacteria may enter the bloodstream causing the liver to produce CRP which leads to inflamed arteries as well as possible blood clots. These inflammatory effects can then lead to blocked arteries causing strokes or heart attacks.
  • Bacteria spread – The bacteria which colonize in the gum pockets can readily travel through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. In pregnant women, research has found that oral bacteria and associated pathogens have colonized in the internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Pregnant women should have access to safe, non surgical treatment options for periodontal disease. The best way you can do this is by halting progression of your condition and increasing the chances that labor will be a healthy one.

Dental neglect can lead to a number of issues, including tooth decay and gum disease. To prevent this from happening the dentist will assess your mouth in order determine what needs treated or removed with scaling and root planing procedures such as tartar removal via scalings (scraping), cleaning out pockets between teeth where bacteria resides from plaque build up which may cause irritation if untreated.

The condition of periodontal disease has been associated with a high risk for pregnancy complications, including pre-term labor and low birth weight infants. Fortunately there are treatments available that can reduce this likelihood by as much 50%.

Pregnant women should receive education from their dentist about the risks that they may face during pregnancy. Rarer complications, such as periodontal disease and smoking cessation can be drastically reduced by proper home care practices alone.