Pregnancy and Inflammatory Response

Lubert, Heather, Samantha Tasker, and Amber Fountain

Purpose

To increase expectant mothers awareness of the oral-systemic link between a mother and her unborn child.

Summary

As far back as 1963, there have been studies that suggest that the gingival inflammatory response during pregnancy causes an increased risk for fetal complications. According to the 2000 Surgeon General‟s report on Oral Health in America, “Human case-control studies have demonstrated that mothers of low-birthweight infants born as a result of either preterm labor or premature rupture of membranes tend to have more severe periodontal disease than mothers with normalbirth- weight infants.” For this reason, pregnant women (or women planning on becoming pregnant) should have their oral health status assessed and appropriately treated. Periodontal disease is preventable and treatable, so it is the dental practitioners‟ obligation to motivate their patients and make this prevention/treatment top priority. Periodontal disease in pregnant women can cause pre-eclampsia which can lead to low birth weight and pre-term births. There are many preventive measures which can be taken to avoid pregnancy gingivitis and periodontal disease. Routine prenatal visits to provide preventive oral health counseling are recommended to increase patient responsiveness and promote better home care. As health care professionals it is our duty to encourage optimal oral health and overall wellness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there have been many studies proving an oral-systemic link between a mother and her unborn child. Unfortunately many more studies need to be done concerning this issue. In the meantime, dental practitioners can increase awareness and education by making oral health a priority before, during, and after pregnancy.