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Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Researchers have shown that periodontal disease in expectant mothers actually exposes their unborn child to a lot of risks; particularly if the mothers are diabetes sufferers.

The periodontal ailment starts with a bacterial contamination in the gum (gingival) tissue, which in turn annihilates the tissue and the hidden bone. On the off chance that left untreated, the bacterial contamination causes a provocative response in the body, which can essentially develop the gum stashes (space between the teeth and gums) and drive the gum and jawbone to subside. In the end, the dynamic way of periodontal malady causes the teeth to wind up free, shaky and in the long run drop out. 

 
Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes which increase the risk of the expectant mother to develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and periodontal disease. These oral problems have been linked in many research studies to preeclampsia, low birth weight of the baby and premature birth.  Expectant women should seek immediate treatment for periodontal disease in order to reduce the risk of pre-natal and post-natal complications.

Reasons for the Connection

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

  • Prostaglandin – Periodontal disease appears to elevate levels of prostaglandin in mothers who are suffering from an advanced form 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

There are many safe, nonsurgical treatment options available for pregnant women. It is of paramount importance to halt the progress of the periodontal disease in order to increase the chances of a safe and healthy delivery.

Initially, the dentist will assess the exact condition of the gums and jawbone in order to make a precise diagnosis. Scaling and root planning are two common non-surgical procedures used to rid the tooth-root surfaces of calculus (tartar) and remove the bacterial toxins from the gum pockets.

The advantages to the pregnant woman are plentiful. The risks of pregnancy complications caused by the periodontal disease are reduced by as much as 50%, and these treatments will alleviate many unpleasant and harmful effects associated with gingivitis and periodontal infection.

Dentists can provide dental education and recommendations to the pregnant women on effective home care which can reduce risks that may affect her and/or her child’s health.  Risks of periodontal disease can be vastly reduced by proper home care, smoking cessation, dietary changes and the ingestion of supplementary vitamins.

If you have any questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its affect on pregnancy, please ask your dentist.

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