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periodontal disease & pregnancy

Pregnancy and gum disease

Researchers have demonstrated that periodontal disease in pregnant women poses various risks to their unborn child, especially if the mother also has diabetes. Typically, periodontal disease begins with a bacterial infection in the gum tissue, gradually causing destruction of the tissue and underlying bone. If left untreated, the bacterial infection triggers an inflammatory response in the body, leading to a significant deepening of gum pockets and the recession of gums and boneloss. Ultimately, the progressive nature of periodontal disease results in loose and unstable teeth that may eventually fall out.

Pregnancy induces hormonal changes that elevate the risk of developing gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal disease in expectant mothers. Numerous research studies have linked these oral issues to complications such as preeclampsia, low birth weight, and premature birth. Seeking prompt treatment for periodontal disease during pregnancy is crucial to mitigate the risks of prenatal and postnatal complications.


 

Reasons for the connection

Several factors contribute to how periodontal disease affects the health of both the mother and the unborn child:

  1. Prostaglandin: Periodontal disease appears to increase prostaglandin levels in mothers with advanced forms of the condition. Elevated prostaglandin levels can induce premature labor and result in a baby with low birth weight.

  2. C-reactive protein (CRP): Linked to heart disease, CRP is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes like preeclampsia and premature birth. Periodontal infections elevate CRP levels, intensifying the body's inflammatory response, potentially leading to blocked arteries, strokes, or heart attacks.

  3. Bacteria spread: Bacteria in gum pockets can travel through the bloodstream, affecting other parts of the body. In pregnant women, oral bacteria and pathogens have been found in internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.

Treatment

​Safe, non-surgical treatment options are available for pregnant women, aiming to halt the progression of periodontal disease and increase the likelihood of a safe and healthy delivery. Dentists assess the gum and jawbone condition for a precise diagnosis. Scaling and root planning is the most common non-surgical procedure to remove calculus and bacterial toxins from gum pockets.

Treatment reduces the risks of pregnancy complications caused by periodontal disease by up to 50%, alleviating the unpleasant effects associated with gingivitis and periodontal infection. Dentists can offer education and recommendations on effective home care to reduce risks to the mother and child's health. Proper home care, smoking cessation, dietary changes, and supplementary vitamin intake significantly reduce the risks of periodontal disease.

Pregnant patients can receive dental treatment at any stage of their pregnancy, including all trimesters. However, the best time for non-emergency dental treatment is during the second trimester, typically between weeks 14 and 20. During this time, the risk of miscarriage is lower, and the fetus is less susceptible to potential teratogenic effects.

If you have any questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its affect on pregnancy, please contact our practice.

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