Pregnant Mothers Need Protect Against Gum Disease

Gum Disease Is Linked To Stillborn and Premature Low-Weight Babies

Many mothers know that they can expect to have some problems with gum disease during their pregnancy. This is not true of every mother-to-be, but about 75 percent of mothers will have some problems with it. What expectant mothers need to know is that gum disease may result in babies that are born pre-term – or stillborn.

Pre-mature Births

According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, it was discovered that women who have chronic gum disease are more apt to deliver pre-term than women who do not have the disease. It is between four to seven times more likely that the delivery would occur before the 37th week of pregnancy. Women with more serious gum disease will likely deliver around 32 weeks.

When a child is born prematurely, he or she is at a greater risk for several health problems. These problems may include learning disabilities, neurological conditions, respiratory problems, and infections.


It has been known for some time that babies could be born pre-term as a result of gum disease. Only in the past few years has there ever been a connection to stillbirths.

This was discovered to be the case in a woman who at 35 gave birth to a stillborn baby that was full-term. She wanted the death investigated because she had heard that some bacteria found in the mouth of mice had passed through the placenta into the baby mice.

After researching the case, it was found that there were bacteria found in the baby that did not normally occur in the vagina. The investigation discovered that the exact same bacteria found in the woman's mouth was what was found in the baby. It had successfully passed through the placenta into the baby's stomach and lungs.

The mother in this case revealed that she had heavy bleeding in her gums from gum disease while she was pregnant. Being that the placenta has a normally suppressed immune system, the bacteria from the periodontal disease was able to pass to the baby.

The researchers reveal that this was a rare case and that expectant mothers should not be overly concerned about it. Women should, however, be careful to maintain good oral health while they are pregnant because it definitely can affect the baby.

About Gum Disease

In the United States, many people have gum disease. Some people are not aware of it because they do not recognize the symptoms or the potential damage that it can do to your gums, teeth, smile, and facial features. Gum disease can and should be treated at any stage to avoid potentially serious health complications.

Gum disease is a problem because it is caused by bacteria that are normally found in the mouth. In a healthy mouth, the bacteria are normally kept under control by other bacteria, and it stays in the mouth. As the gums become inflamed, the bacteria that cause it get into the bloodstream. From there, the inflammation and the bacteria spread through the body causing buildups in the blood vessels and organs.

Periodontal disease may also trigger pre-eclampsia, which is high blood pressure while pregnant. This can place a greater stress on the mother, the placenta, and the unborn baby.

Gum disease occurs in two forms: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the mild form and many people do not recognize that it is the start of a serious problem. It can usually be treated at home simply by brushing at least twice a day and flossing. Aim for at least two minutes each time you brush to do a more thorough job of cleaning your teeth. Flossing is just as important and you may also want to use an antimicrobial mouthwash.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

When you see the following symptoms, it is time to see a dentist for treatment:

  • Red and inflamed gums

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss

  • Receding gums

  • Pus at the gum line

  • Ongoing bad breath

  • Loose teeth

  • Pain when you bite

  • A change in your bite.

Periodontal Disease Treatment

If gum disease is allowed to progress, it will become the more serious periodontal disease. Once it reaches this stage, it is necessary to get the help of a dentist to control and eliminate it. The dentist may use several treatments to bring it under control and possibly eliminate it. Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics

  • Dental cleaning

  • Scaling and root planing

  • Surgery

Because pregnant women are more prone to gum disease, it may be necessary to have ongoing dental treatment to control it. Treating gum disease in pregnant women has been shown to decrease the amount of prostaglandins. These are substances that are known to produce inflammation. These substances, along with some other ones, may increase your risk of premature birth, or of a stillborn birth.

While you are pregnant, it is important to prevent gum disease for your health and for the health and survival of your baby. Gum disease and periodontal disease treatment can be given if you have it, and preventive dentistry and regular checkups can be given to help control it. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can provide the oral care you need. He offers a wide range of dental services for all ages and accepts most dental health plans. His dental offices are located in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.