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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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5 star rating 8/30/2017
Dr. Thai has been my dentist for over 3 years now and I'm still fully satisfied with this office! The main thing I like about this office is that they really care about the patient.
So if you're looking for an office that pays attention to personalized care and a dentist that listens to your needs and concerns, this is the office for you!
They accept most insurances so if you're not sure if they are in network, make sure to give them a call and they will help you through the process!

CK in Sunnyvale on 08/30/2017

5.0 star rating 3/13/2016
I strongly disagree with Peter Z. I doubt that his review is for Dr Thai. I've been with Dr. Thai for 2 years and she never did what Peter Z has described. Dr. Thai is not a pushy person, I don't believe she would repeatedly up-sell unnecessary procedures to her patients. She is professional, knowledgable, skillful, experienced, down to earth, sincere, friendly. There are a lot of great values I found on her as an outstanding dentist.

I would highly recommend her to anybody.

Richard via Yelp

5.0 star rating 11/20/2015
1 check-in
This review is long overdue! I have been a patient of Dr. Thai for over 7 years now. I concur with the other reviews that she is sincere, friendly, and will go above and beyond to help with getting your dental needs taken care of. She would take the time to answer all of my questions and was very thorough with her cleanings, screenings, and overall dental care. The best thing about her is that she is gentle and patient. If you happen to see her during the holiday season, you may get a chance to try her homemade muffins or cookies. Her assistant told me that she loves to bake during the holidays, and she would share them with patients and colleagues. Her office even have cool dental items like bacon, pickle, and cupcake toothpaste/floss for you to try. So if you want a personalized and friendly office where the dentist knows all of her patients by name, then I highly recommend Dr. Thai. You won't be disappointed.

Chip via Yelp

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We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.