The Link between Gum disease & Low Birth Weight

Complications with oral health unquestionably have an impact on systemic health. Poor oral hygiene and gum disease (Periodontal disease) can increase the likelihood of health disease throughout the rest of the body.

The length of time associated with healthy pregnancy, researchers have found, is often shortened due to infections in the oral cavity. Low birth weight (< 2.5 kg), which affects the health of a newborn, is a result.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, “maternal gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation and disease of the structures surrounding the teeth) may be risk factors for preterm birth .”

The reason of both of these conditions that might induce early labor, is the presence of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that are responsible for prompting delivery following a regular nine-month pregnancy term.

Prostaglandins and Periodontal Disease

Prostaglandin is a hormone, produced during body inflammation, and responsible for telling the body when a pregnancy has ended. Its function is to induce the delivery of a fully-grown fetus. When the mouth becomes infected, the mouth’s inflammation is triggered to defend against oral infection, and prostaglandins are produced in the oral cavity.

These prostaglandins actually “trick” the body into thinking that a pregnancy has ended. So, there is no mechanism to differentiate when chemicals are in the mouth, or in the placenta.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are both infections within the oral cavity and, accordingly, the body has an inflammatory response to defend itself. Gum Inflammation , caused by bacteria, release the prostaglandins as a byproduct. In general, the less inflammation that is present in the oral cavity during pregnancy, the less of a chance that there will be an early delivery.

Research regarding prostaglandins and their effect on pregnancy are still in their infancy. So, practicing good oral hygiene at the onset of pregnancy seems to be the best method when it comes to avoiding complications.

Ways to Control Periodontal Infections and Pregnancy Gingivitis

Although gingivitis is a condition that often manifests during pregnancy, and then disappears following delivery, there are ways to control and reverse the presence of infection once it is clinically evident.

One way to control gingival inflammation and the subsequent release of prostaglandins, is by using dental floss once daily throughout the entire mouth. This will mechanically dislodge plaque, which is often a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria. Many types of mouth rinse also have bactericidal properties (meaning, literally, “to kill bacteria”), which will reduce, but not completely eliminate, the quantity of infectious microorganisms in the mouth.

Used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, mouth rinse can reverse the presence of inflammation and, subsequently, reduce the number of prostaglandins that are produced.

While periodontal (Gum) disease is an irreversible condition, when patient is pregnant, it is still important to be  meticulous with oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing, as well as frequent (3-4 month) check-ups with your dental professional. By reducing the number of bacteria in the oral cavity, patients lower their risk of premature delivery by reducing the incidence of prostaglandins in the mouth. Therefore, if you plan to get pregnant ,it is very important to have an oral examination with Gum SpecialistPeriodontist” , in order to prevent a possible pregnancy complications such as low weight birth & preterm labor.

By: Dr.A.M. Miski