Researchers have shown that periodontal disease in expectant mothers actually exposes their unborn child to many different risks; particularly if they also happen to be diabetes sufferers.
Periodontal disease generally begins with a bacterial infection in the gum (gingival) tissue, which progressively destroys the tissue and the underlying bone. If left untreated, the bacterial infection causes an inflammatory reaction in the body, which can significantly deepen the gum pockets (space between the teeth and gums) and forces the gum and jawbone to recede. Eventually, the progressive nature of periodontal disease causes the teeth to become loose and unstable, and eventually fall 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.
There are many different reasons why periodontal disease may affect the health of the mother and her unborn child:
There are many safe, non surgical treatment options available for pregnant women. It is of paramount importance to halt the progress of 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 planing 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 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.
I am a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, King County Dental Society, South Sound Study Club.
I believe in providing the highest level of dental care possible so that I am caring for my patients the way that I would care for my family. This involves rigorous continuing education in all facets and areas of dentistry and developing good rapport and trust with the patients.
I am a member of the American Dental Association, Seattle-King County Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry, Academy of Computerized Dentistry, and the Sammamish Kiwanis.
I have had the pleasure of practicing in Sammamish since 1995, was honored in 2012 with the Sammi Award for community service, and have been voted as one of Seattle’s Top Dentists in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine yearly since 2008.