Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

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.

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 the more advanced forms 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, 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.

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I needed to find a replacement for dental care and chose Dr. Hausman. His overall professionalism and choice of staff is outstanding. He takes the necessary time with you to ensure your total dental issues are resolved. He discovered a tumor on my upper palate that was ultimately taken care of with early treatment. He also was able to offer implant alternatives and ensure overall tooth stabilization w/o spending a fortune. I highly recommend him and his staff for total dental care.

Michael W.

Pleasant fast and knowledgeable.
Everyone in this office is so nice!! Here is how this practice is different than every other dentist I've seen:
1. There are TV monitors in every room where they display pictures of your teeth, X-rays , etc. While they're not displaying items pertaining to dental care, the hygienist or doctor display pictures of their hobbies. Becky is a farm girl at heart, she has pictures of her farm, antique tractor and her dog Kentucky. Doctor H. Is an avid fisherman. He has pictures from all over the world with his catch of the day.
The other main difference is Doctor Hausman's professional and technical abilities. He can prep and fill a cavity in like 3 minutes flat. He is like a cavity assassin. Him and his dental assistant complement each other perfectly, as she acts as extensions of his own hands.
The last, and most important for some, thing to mention is that he and his hygienist are trained to work "not in your face" . Other dentist's offices can make you feel so claustrophobic, but never this one.
This place is great, give it a try if you are in town.

Patrick II G.

Longmeadow Dental Care is THE practice that we are glad to have to take care of our dental care. On top of the excellent care provided we noticed the attention to detail, the extreme friendliness, the no-pressure and the listening to our concerns by the Dr and his "crew". This is what a dental practice should be

J.C.

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