Research continues to emerge solidifying the mouth-body connection. The changes that occur in the body during pregnancy can also affect the mouth, and studies have shown the links between mothers who have periodontal disease and premature, low birth weight babies.
Low birth weight babies, defined as a baby born under 5 pounds 8 ounces, are more likely to die during infancy and have a higher risk of developing future health issues. Babies born prior to 37 weeks, considered premature, often require longer hospital stays and have to endure future medical issues.
Gram-negative bacteria, that contribute to periodontal disease, can access the blood stream of pregnant mothers and poorly affect the unborn child. The bacteria present are usually the ones that cause destruction in many other areas of the body, but are toxic to a developing baby. The toxins created, as a result of these bacteria in the bloodstream, cross the placenta and create undesirable birth outcomes; slowing the growth of the unborn child and disruption of development being just a couple. An infection in the body of an expecting mother, such as periodontal disease, stimulates prostaglandins, which are chemicals that can stimulate contractions and dilation of the cervix prematurely.
It is common to experience pregnancy gingivitis beginning in the second month all the way to end of the ninth month. Red, swollen gums that bleed easily are sometimes caused by the increased level of hormones, resulting in a sensitivity to plaque accumulation. Pregnancy granulomas or tumors, a red lump that forms on the gum tissue, usually disappear after birth; however, the sometimes glossy, bleeding growths can be removed.
Thorough home care practices are essential to lower the amount of harmful bacteria available to potentially harm a growing baby; brushing, flossing, antimicrobial mouth rinses, and regular dental appointments. Prevention and early disease detection are key to ideal outcomes; however, if you do have periodontal disease, getting the necessary treatment can reduce the risks of having an underweight or premature baby. New technology allows us to test saliva to see the bacteria that are playing a key role in oral-systemic health. Performing this test guides our treatment outline and shows us a patient's risk level. Please schedule an evaluation if you are expecting, and feel free to check out our therapy page in the mean time.