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September 2013

Pregnancy and Periodontal Health

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periodontal disease | pregnancyThe American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) are urging pregnant women to maintain their periodontal health

Periodontal disease is a chronic, bacteria-induced, inflammatory condition that attacks the gum tissue and if left untreated can attack the bone.  Gum disease (periodontal disease) can not only lead to tooth loss, but also systemic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Research suggests that women with periodontal disease may be more likely to deliver babies prematurely or with low-birth weight.  Babies with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) may be at risk of long-term health problems and/or learning disabilities.  Babies born pre-term may be at risk of developing respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss, or feeding and digestive problems.

The President of the AAP, warns that “Tenderness, redness, or swollen gums are a few indications of periodontal disease.  Other symptoms include gums that bleed with toothbrushing or eating, gums that are pulling away from the teeth, bad breath, and loose teeth.  These signs, especially during pregnancy, should not be ignored and may require treatment from a dental professional.”

If a pregnant women has periodontal disease, the AAP and EFP released clinical recommendations stating that non-surgical periodontal therapy is safe for pregnant women and can result in improved periodontal health.  In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a statement encouraging pregnant women to sustain their oral health and recommended regular dental cleanings during pregnancy.

“Routine brushing and flossing, and seeing a periodontist, dentist, or dental hygienist for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation during pregnancy may decrease the chance of adverse pregnancy complications.  It is important for expectant mothers to monitor their periodontal health and to have a conversation with their periodontist or dentist about the most appropriate care.  By maintaining your periodontal health, you are not only supporting your overall health, but also helping to ensure a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.” said The President of the AAP.