Periodontal disease during pregnancy - a trigger for premature births?
Pregnancy is a turning point in every woman's life. This exciting, exciting time demands a lot from the female body – especially from the teeth.
Instead of just thinking about nest building, I would like to encourage you to think about yourself as well. Listen to what is good for you - and what is not. Because what is good for you is definitely good for your child! Take care of yourself – optimized oral hygiene is part of it.
Because the immune system of the expectant mother is shut down. This is part of the perfect biological program. But this also brings with it an increased susceptibility to inflammation. In addition, there is a loosening of the connective tissue and a general increase in blood flow to the tissue. Pregnant women also look radiantly beautiful. They embody the vibrant life.
What is less nice is that women have to struggle with increased bleeding gums, so-called gingivitis, during pregnancy for the reasons mentioned above. In addition, the increased estrogen level in the blood and saliva stimulates the growth of bacteria that promote periodontitis.
Nature has provided a sophisticated self-help mechanism for this: the pregnant body produces more of the hormone cortisol. It has an anti-inflammatory effect, which in principle suppresses the symptoms of periodontitis, but without stopping the disease. Cortisone levels are increased to provide more glucose, resulting in an increase in blood sugar: this in turn increases susceptibility to inflammation. At the same time, the cortisone suppresses the immune system. It is precisely this temporary suppression of symptoms during pregnancy that causes periodontal disease to become all the more severe afterwards.
Dental care deserves the utmost attention during pregnancy
This protective mechanism of the body described above indicates that periodontitis during pregnancy is detrimental to the child, precisely because the body tries to avoid it with its methods.
A study by the International Association for Dental Research in Washington DC actually showed a more than three times higher rate of premature births in women with periodontal diseases compared to women with healthy teeth (23,4% vs. 7,2%). In individual cases, an enzyme test for metalloproteinases (aMMP8) should definitely be considered. It provides information as to whether periodontal therapy is advisable during pregnancy in order to reduce a possible risk of premature birth. Depending on the result, periodontitis therapy can also be postponed until after the pregnancy.
I advise my pregnant patients to visit the dental hygienist more frequently during this period and to pay special attention to daily oral hygiene to counteract the occurrence of inflammation.
Today's modern everyday life pays little attention to the needs of pregnant women. Many women, especially those who lack family support, feel almost overwhelmed.
But precisely because you have to be particularly efficient with your strength: Take the time for optimized dental care and oral hygiene!