After pregnancy, chronic exposure to these inflammatory blood substances from bacteria in the mouth may cause a three to four times greater risk later in life to cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, and diabetes compared to the general population. The mechanism is believed to be due to bacteria, toxins and platelets sticking together, along with circulating inflammatory factors which cause clots to form.
Children exposed to these inflammatory factors may also have added risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes later in life. Other diseases associated with these inflammatory mediators include Crohn's disease and Alzheimer's disease as adults.
Periodontal disease is a curable problem. Treatment may not only help save your teeth, but will support the prevention of perinatal mortality and morbidity. If mothers are educated to realize that there might be a link between preventing periodontal disease and improving the health and well-being of their infant, not to mention their own health, more women will seek preventative dental care during pregnancy.
Studies that are more conclusive with controls for socioeconomic status, smoking and study size have yet to be performed. However, even if the associations with these other factors are found not to be a factor in getting the disease, treating periodontal disease in pregnancy is safe and effective and, at the very least, may prevent unpleasant symptoms and appearance. It may also prevent the need for costly treatment and potential tooth loss later in life.
You may want to stick the photo of the gingivitic horse on your refrigerator as a reminder to always take good care of your teeth, especially while you are pregnant. Please share this article with everyone you know who is pregnant or may get pregnant.
Dr. Brown, founder of Beauté de Maman, is a board-certified member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a member of the American Medical Association, the Fairfield County Medical Association, Yale Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and the Women's Medical Association of Fairfield County. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Tufts University, completed her medical training at George Washington University Medical Center and completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr. Brown has a busy obstetrical practice in Stamford, Connecticut and, as a clinical attending, actively teaches residents from Stamford Hospital and medical students from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
Copyright © Michele Brown. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.