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Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Studies have shown that periodontal disease in expectant mothers actually effects their unborn child to several different risks; more so if they suffer from diabetes.

Periodontal disease commonly starts with a bacterial inflammation in the gingival (gum) tissue, which gradually affects the underlying bone and tissue. Without treatment, the bacterial infection may lead to an inflammatory reaction in the body, which may rapidly widen the gum pockets (space between the gums and teeth) and causes the jawbone and gums to recede. In the long run, the continued nature of periodontal disease results in the teeth to becoming unstable and loose, and may lead to teeth having to be removed.

Pregnancy results in several hormonal changes which increase the possibilities that the expectant mother may develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and potential periodontal disease. These oral conditions can be linked in several studies to preeclampsia, low birth weight of the infant, and premature birth. Expectant mothers should look for immediate treatment for periodontal disease so that they might reduce the risk of pre-natal and post-natal problems.

Reasons for the Connection

There are several different explanations why periodontal disease may affect the health of the mother and her unborn child:

  • Prostaglandin – Periodontal disease seems to raise levels of prostaglandin in mothers who appear to have the more advanced forms of the condition. Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing product found in several oral bacterial strains associated with periodontitis. Higher levels of prostaglandin may subject the mother to to a possible premature birth and deliver a baby with possible low birth weight.
  • C - reactive protein (CRP) – This protein, which has been associated with heart disease, can now be associated with adverse pregnancy results including premature birth and preeclampsia. Periodontal infections raise C-reactive protein levels and increase the body's static inflammatory response. Bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream resulting in the liver to producing CRP which can lead to possible blood clots and inflamed vessels. These inflammatory effects can then lead to blocked arteries causing heart attacks and strokes.
  • Bacteria spread – The bacteria which migrate in the gum pockets may sometimes move through the bloodstream and can affect other parts of the body. In pregnant women, studies have discovered that similar associated pathogens and oral bacteria have spread in the coronary arteries and internal mammary glands.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are several safe, non surgical treatment selections available for pregnant women. It is of utmost importance to stop the spread of periodontal disease in order to increase the chances of a healthy and safe delivery.

To start with, Dr. Braithwaite will examine the precise state of the gums and jawbone so that he can make an exact diagnosis. Root planing and scaling are 2 common non-surgical procedures used to eliminate the root surfaces of tartar (calculus) and eliminate the bacteria from the gum pockets.

The positive reasons are lessoned by as much as 40%, and these treatments will stop several dangerous and unpleasant associated with periodontal infection and gingivitis.

Yiour dental team can provide recommendations and dental education to the pregnant women on effective home care which may reduce danger that can affect her and/or the child's health. The dangers of periodontal disease may be significantly reduced by dietary changes, smoking cessation, proper home care, and the ingestion of supplementary vitamins.

If you have any concerns or questions about periodontal disease and its affect on pregnancy, please consult with Dr. Braithwaite and his staff.