Pregnancy & Periodontal Disease
The Mouth and Body Connection
Summary of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease (commonly known as periodontitis, gum disease or jawbone disease) is a chronic condition and without proper professional treatment the result is jawbone loss and tooth loss. It is the most common cause of tooth loss. A bacterial infection occurs from bacteria that colonize above and below the gum line and causes gum pockets. This bacteria enters your bloodstream and travels throughout your bloodstream and travels throughout the body. Intra-orally the infection continues and the gum pocket becomes more inflamed and deeper causing the gum tissue to detach from the root of the tooth and infect the underlying jawbone. At Michael Drone Dentistry & Prosthodontics a periodontal evaluation is performed and Dr. Drone will develop a periodontal therapy program specific for you.
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Dr. Drone is a native of Wheatfield, IN and has been practicing dentistry since 2003 and opened his private practice in Valparaiso, IN in 2007. Dr. Drone earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Indiana University School of Dentistry and earned his advanced specialty degrees in Prosthodontics and Maxillofacial Prosthodontics from Indiana University School of Dentistry and Medicine.
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The Mouth Body Connection and Periodontal Disease
Research has proven that there is a strong connection between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and osteoporosis. Periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation above and below gum-line, the presence of disease-causing bacteria, bleeding of gum tissue when brushing or flossing, gum pockets and bone loss. The bacterial infection in the mouth can spread throughout the body and lead to several problematic health issues. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene, preventing periodontal disease or reducing the progression of periodontal disease through dental treatments will have benefits beyond preventing gum disease and bone loss. It can prevent you from the chance of developing another serious health conditions.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
Pregnant women with periodontal disease are at risk of exposing their unborn child to many risks and complications. Pregnancy causes many changes in hormones, some of which increase the chance of developing gingivitis or periodontal disease. These oral conditions have been linked to preeclampsia, low birth weight of the baby and premature birth. Pregnant women need to be evaluated for periodontal disease or let us help provide periodontal treatment in order to reduce complications. Luckily, preventing the progression of periodontal disease with our periodontal treatment procedures and treating existing oral health problems can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease-related complications.
Connection to Pregnancy
There are many reasons that periodontal disease can affect the health of pregnant females and her unborn child
- Prostaglandins: Pregnant females with moderate to severe periodontal disease cause high levels of prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are natural chemical in the body with hormone-like characteristics. When pregnant women go into labor, prostaglandins help cause the cervix to dilate and contractions to occur. Prostaglandins are commonly used to induce labor. Prostaglandin can found in one of the oral bacterial strains associated with periodontal disease. Elevated levels can cause the pregnant female to go into labor prematurely and have a baby with a low birth weight which can cause complications for the baby.
- C-reactive protein (CRP): this protein has also been linked to heart disease and is associated with pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and premature births. Periodontal infections trigger and elevation of CRP and intensify the natural inflammatory response. Bacteria from periodontal disease may enter the blood stream and cause inflammation which triggers the liver to produce extra amounts of CRP which causes inflammation in arteries resulting in a possible blood clot, heart attack or stroke.
- Oral bacteria infiltration: The bacteria that are responsible for causing periodontal disease that invade and live in the gum pockets of a diseased mouth may travel through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. For pregnant women, research shows that these oral bacteria colonize in the internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.
Women may also experience changes in their hormone levels during puberty, while taking birth control or during hormone replacement therapy for treatment of menopause. Increased hormone levels can make the body more sensitive to bacterial infections. These individuals need to increase their normal home care and need more frequent oral health care exams three to four times a year to keep good periodontal health and monitor the activity of their periodontal disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
During pregnancy we recommend very safe and non-surgical periodontal treatment options and discuss the options with you obstetrician. It is critical to stop the progression of periodontal disease to improve the chances of a safe pregnancy.
It is essential that pregnant women have routine oral health care exams at a minimum of two times a year at Michael Drone Dentistry & Prosthodontics. Dr. Drone will evaluate the following: medical history, dental history, dental radiographs, saliva sampling, the condition of your gums, the condition of your teeth and your jawbone to assess any risk factors for periodontal disease.
Dr. Drone will design a periodontal treatment plan with the hygienist and perform the necessary non-surgical periodontal procedures:
- removal of the tarter from the teeth
- removal of tarter above and below the gum line
- removal of bacteria on the roots of the teeth
- removal of bacteria in the gum pockets
- application of antibiotics into the gum pockets
- prescription for medicated mouthwash
- placement of fluoride
Our hygienists will discuss oral health care instructions and recommend and hygiene products with you at the end of your appointment. At each oral health care appointment Dr. Drone will re-evaluate your periodontal plan and make any necessary modifications if needed. Studies have demonstrated that periodontal treatments such as scaling & root planning and periodontal maintenance can decrease the risks of pregnancy complications caused by periodontal diseases by 50%.