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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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Testimonials

I loved my experience at Dr. Lopez's office. 20 years ago I had several unsightly metal fillings put in my mouth. Also, I've worn my teeth down by grinding considerably over the years. As I grew older, my teeth did not look good to me when I smiled. In July of 2015, I wanted to have all of the metal fillings in my mouth removed, and one of the fillings in particular had already cracked the tooth that it filled. Initially, I was very nervous, but Dr. Lopez and his staff completely put me at ease from the time I walked in the door. The way he rebuilt the grinding damage on my back teeth is remarkable. He is not only a great dentist but a gifted architect and engineer at the same time. I didn't even feel the numbing shots at all, and I actually fell asleep in the chair during the procedure thanks to Dr. Lopez's relaxing demeanor and the calming music in the room. To my wife, I affectionately refer to him as Dr. Lopezzzzzz, now, since I did fall asleep. I would recommend Dr. Lopez to even my closest family. Thank you, again, Dr. Lopez.

Chase H

I went to Dr. Lopez to get veneers on eight teeth (upper, front). From my initial consultation to getting my temporary veneers put in today, I have been consistently impressed by his practice. The entire staff operate as a single, professional team. Extremely courteous, knowledgable, and accommodating, they do everything they can to help patients feel both comfortable and fully informed of everything that goes on during their visit.

My process with the veneers thus far has been extremely smooth and easy. Despite what you may read on the Internet from other people who have gotten veneers elsewhere, Dr. Lopez goes through great measures to ensure that your experience is pain and worry free. He is truly a master at his craft, and his vast experience in the dental profession (equally reflected in his accolades) definitely shows.

I have a check-up for the temporary veneers in the next couple of weeks, and the permanent veneers will arrive shortly thereafter. I have full confidence that the rest of this process will go just as well as it has so far, especially after my visit today. Highly recommend this office for your dental needs. 5/5 stars.

Jason H

I have never liked going to the dentist because of painful past experiences. Shots, rough cleanings, etc. On my first visit, I had a cleaning . There was no pain. I was impressed. And a recent event that required shots, and extractions had me concerned about pain, but Dr. Lopez reassured me not to worry. As he began the shots,NO PAIN AT ALL!!! I was more than impressed! I knew I had found my dentist. Dr. Lopez and his staff are kind, gentle, professional, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and pleasant! I am very pleased, and highly recommend him!!!

Robin T

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Dr. Juan R. Lopez
Phone: 580-536-9647
6941 West Gore Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505