Pregnancy and Gum Disease

Published on July 11, 2011 by in blog


Congratulations!Expecting Mother

Whether you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, you will no doubt be getting advice from everyone you know. One thing that many people overlook during this exciting time is the importance of taking care of your oral health.

It’s always important to maintain good oral health, however it may be of even higher importance to expecting mothers. Recent research suggests that women with periodontal diseases (gum diseases) maybe be up to seven times more likely to have a premature birth. Preterm births are dangerous to both the baby and the mother, they are the leading cause of neonatal death.  Preterm births can lead to life-long health problems for baby like cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and difficulties with blindness and lung disease.

The possible connection has been traced to a labor-inducing chemical called prostaglandin which is found in oral bacteria. Very high levels of prostaglandin were found in pregnant women with severe cases of periodontal disease.

Additionally, other research has identified a bacteria commonly found in the mouth and which is associated with periodontal diseases in the amniotic fluid of some pregnant women. Amniotic fluid is a liquid that surround an unborn baby in the uterus during pregnancy. Any disruptions in the amniotic fluid, such as a bacterial infection, could potentially be dangerous to both the baby and the mother.

This information can seem startling and unsettling, don’t panic. Share your concerns with your dental professional such as a  periodontist. If you’re diagnosed with periodontal disease, your periodontist might recommend a non-surgical procedure commonly known as scaling and root planing. During this procedure the surfaces of your tooth-roots are cleaned to remove plaque and tartar from deeper than normal periodontal pockets. The surfaces are smoothed down to the root to remove harmful bacterial toxins. Research suggests that scaling and root planing may reduce the risk of preterm birth by up to 84 percent in pregnant women with periodontal disease.

Good periodontal health is important for women of all ages, pregnant or not

Oral Contraceptives

A recent study found higher levels of gingival bleeding and deeper periodontal pockets in women taking oral contraceptives than women who have not been taking oral contraceptives. It is important for women to alert their dental professionals about any medications being taken, especially oral contraceptives, because certain medications can affect oral health.


Another recent study showed that postmenopausal women with periodontal bacteria present in their mouths were more likely to have irreversible bone loss in the oral cavity, this can lead to tooth loss if not treated in a timely manner.

Remember that it is important to maintain oral care at home and regular dental cleanings should always be complimented with  deep cleanings and periodontal evaluations. With the help of a periodontist, you can take control of your oral health and maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

The source of this data is the AAP September 2007 Patient Page titled “What Your Gums Can Expect When You Are Expecting”. To find the full article and for more information please visit: 

Image © 2010 Alex Bramwell, Getty Images

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