Did you know that when you are pregnant your hormones cause changes in all aspects of your body chemistry, including your mouth? The changes that occur during pregnancy that alter your hormone levels can affect your gum tissues. Gum inflammation (gingivitis) can be exaggerated during pregnancy because the steroid hormones your body is producing can weaken your body’s normal response to bacteria that are commonly found in the oral cavity.
This inflammation if not treated can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can destroy the supporting structures and bone around teeth. Periodontal disease can cause inflammatory markers to rise in the bloodstream if not treated properly. The rise in these inflammatory markers can cause harm to you and your baby leading to multiple complications during pregnancy and at birth. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, studies have demonstrated that uncontrolled periodontal disease can lead to complications in pregnancy including pre-term delivery and preeclampsia.
The American College of Obstertricians and Gynecologists published a statement regarding the importance of oral health care during pregnancy, stating that “ Oral health is an important component of general health and should be maintained during pregnancy”. So if you are pregnant, a evaluation with your periodontist may be an essential part of your prenatal regimen to help protect both you and your baby.
Dr. Sanaz Vahid is a periodontist at Kazemi Oral Surgery and Dental Implants in Bethesda, MD.