Gum disease can affect individuals of all ages, and that includes pregnant women who may be more susceptible to gum disease for reasons we explain below. This means that expectant mothers should recognize the need for taking care of their periodontal health not just for their own sake but for the unborn baby they carry.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
According to various studies, it’s estimated that as many as one in five women can develop periodontal disease (severe gum disease) during pregnancy. While research is still ongoing, and not conclusive, more and more studies point to a link between severe gum disease in pregnant women and adverse pregnancy outcomes that can include low birth weight, restricted baby growth and pre-term labor. It’s thought that the harmful bacteria associated with the severe gum disease can spread into the fetal-placental unit, where the fetus and placenta work together as a combined endocrine system.
According to the groups like the American Pregnancy Association, some women may be more prone to gum disease during pregnancy due to a variety of changes in their body, including:
- increased levels of certain hormones
- increased blood flow
- changes in eating habits
- changes in dental hygiene maintenance
Researchers on maternal periodontal disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry caution pregnant women to seek intervention “for the patient’s oral health and for the well-being of the fetus.” They discuss how gum disease in pregnant women “has been associated with pre-term birth, development of pre-eclampsia, and delivery of an infant small for its gestational age.”
Seek Help from a Periodontist
The March of Dimes indicates that upwards of 75% of pregnant women may have gingivitis, which is gum disease in its simplest form. If you suspect you have gum disease and are expecting, or know someone who is pregnant who may be exhibiting signs of gum disease please don’t hesitate to contact our office today. We can safely treat periodontal disease before and during pregnancy.
By Dr. Liliana Aranguren