Prior articles have examined the issue of gum disease and how it affects the teeth and gums. We now want to examine how periodontal disease affects the rest of your body. Many studies have indicated that gum disease affects more than just your teeth, gums, jaw and the scent of your breath. We now know that there is a strong link between gum disease and complications during pregnancy.
Animal studies conducted over thirty years ago demonstrated that the toxins released by oral bacteria — the microorganisms that make plaque and cause gingivitis — lead to miscarriages, early births and low birth weights. These studies were followed about ten years ago by a Chilean program that examined four hundred pregnant women with periodontal disease. Half were treated for periodontal infections during pregnancy, and the others were treated after birth. Ten percent of the untreated women experienced early births, but only two percent of the pregnant women treated immediately experienced premature births.
The University of Alabama sponsored a similar study with over eight hundred pregnant women. The results were roughly the same, with only four percent of the women receiving immediate treatment suffering early births, while over thirteen percent of the untreated women experienced early labor. This sparked studies totaling thousands of pregnant women by various institutions around the world. While some have suggested that there may be no effect on early births, we know that treating gum disease in pregnant women is safe and does not lead to complications. To the contrary, ignoring gum disease could be dangerous to the fetus, while dealing with any gum disease immediately is recommended by the vast majority of dental professionals.
The Placerville Dental Group is ready to help our pregnant clients maintain their oral health to the likely benefit of their unborn child. Pregnant women noticing any redness, bleeding or looseness of teeth or gums, should make a dental appointment right away. Let’s start your family’s habit of quality dental care early!