Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
Research shows that periodontal disease in pregnant women is linked to numerous risks and health complications, especially if the expectant mother is also diabetic. Periodontal disease is a condition in which bacterial infection surrounding the teeth progressively eats away at the underlying bone and gingival tissue.
Untreated periodontal disease leads to deepened gum pockets, receding gum and jawbone, and inflammation. In advanced cases, teeth can become misaligned, loose, and even fall out. The effects of periodontal disease become worsened with the advent of hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy. These increase the expectant mother’s risks of developing periodontal disease and increase the rate at which the disease progresses.
Oral health issues are proven to connect with preeclampsia, low birth weight babies, and premature birth. Expectant mothers should schedule frequent visits to the dentist to reduce the risk of pre and post-natal complications.
How are periodontal disease and pregnancy connected?
The main reasons why periodontal disease is known to negatively affect the health of expectant mothers are:
C-reactive proteins (CRP) – Periodontal infection amplifies the body’s natural inflammatory responses and increases the production of C-reactive proteins. C-reactive proteins, or CRPs, can enter the bloodstream and cause inflamed arteries, blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. CRP is also linked to preeclampsia and premature birth.
Prostaglandin – Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing compound found in a bacterial strain associated with periodontal disease. High levels of this compound can lead to premature birth and low-weight babies.
Bacteria spread – In all cases of periodontal disease, the bacteria that build up in the oral cavity can spread throughout the body in the bloodstream. Research shows that these bacteria and related pathogens can colonize the coronary arteries and mammary glands in pregnant women.
How is periodontal disease treated in pregnant women?
Proper treatment of periodontal disease in pregnant women reduces their risk of pregnancy complications by up to 50%. There are many safe, non-surgical procedures that periodontists can use to rid patients of harmful bacteria and alleviate the effects of gingivitis and periodontal infection.
At the start of the visit, the dentist will thoroughly examine the patient’s gums, teeth, and jawbone. They may also use X-rays to take a closer look at how the disease is progressing and where exactly the affected areas are. The dentist can then make a precise diagnosis.
Scaling and root planning are common, non-surgical procedures that remove bacterial toxins from the gum pockets and rid the tooth and root surfaces of calculus (tartar). The dentist will also provide their patient with recommendations and advice on how they can maintain their oral health and reduce risks to their child’s health at home. Smoking cessation, taking supplementary vitamins, and making dietary changes are all simple ways patients can vastly reduce the effects of periodontal disease.
If you have any questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its effect on pregnancy in Brooklyn, please contact our Brooklyn Dentist.