Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection that affects the structures, including the gums, periodontal ligament, the root of the teeth, and the alveolar bone. In the initial stages of gum disease, only the gums become affected.
This is known as gingivitis. As the infection progresses, it spreads to the supporting tissues of the teeth. Research has shown that expectant women suffering from gum disease may experience premature labor if the infection is not treated.
How Does Gum Disease Induce Premature Labor?
About 45% of expectant mothers who experience premature labor also have some form of gum infection. This is because the bacteria in the plaque that causes gum diseases may find its way to the placenta via the bloodstream. When this happens, the placenta becomes inflamed and the amniotic surrounding the fetus becomes disrupted and ruptures.
Inflamed gum tissues produce pro-inflammatory cytokines such as prostaglandin E2 that can spread to the other systems of the body like the respiratory, endocrine, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. When the bacteria and the pro-inflammatory cytokines find their way into the reproductive system, it may not only result in premature labor but also low birth weight.
Unfortunately, most women develop gingivitis during the course of the pregnancy. It is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by a shift in the hormonal levels of the mother as a result of the pregnancy.
Good oral health matters when it comes to safe pregnancies. It is important to have regular dental checkups at our clinic as part of your prenatal care. This will enable early detection and treatment of oral problems that may cause issues for you and your unborn baby. Our professionals will also recommend dental care products that are safe for your pregnancy. Schedule a session with us today.