Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy: Understanding the Connection and Mitigating Risks

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy: Understanding the Connection and Mitigating Risks

Pregnancy is a time of significant change, not just for the expectant mother’s body but also for her oral health. Maternal periodontal disease is a highly prevalent condition that has been studied extensively in relation to adverse pregnancy outcome. This article explores the connection between periodontal disease and pregnancy, the potential risks involved, and strategies for prevention and management.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease pertains to the affliction of the soft tissues anchoring your teeth — namely, your gums and the underlying bone. The presence of gum disease indicates damage inflicted by oral bacteria. The reversibility of this condition hinges on the stage of progression. The reversible stage, known as gingivitis, is characterized by gum irritation due to poor oral hygiene, leading to swollen, inflamed, and reddened gums, often accompanied by bleeding. The irreversible stage, periodontitis, emerges when gingivitis is neglected, culminating in the destruction of the gum and bone that secure your teeth, potentially resulting in tooth loss.

Periodontal Disease During Pregnancy

According to research published in Oral & Implantology, periodontal disease in pregnancy is precipitated by the build-up of dental plaque, exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations. Alterations in the oral microbiome of pregnant women can further fuel the progression of

periodontal disease. Exacerbated symptoms of periodontal disease during pregnancy may include:

Gum bleeding

Development of pockets between teeth and gums

Should you observe any signs of pregnancy-related gingivitis or periodontitis, it is crucial to consult your dental professional promptly for an assessment.

Potential Complications

The inflammation and infection associated with periodontal disease can have far-reaching effects. Research has linked periodontal disease in pregnant women to several adverse outcomes, including:

Preterm Birth

The leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality, preterm birth rates are higher in women with periodontal disease.

Low Birth Weight

Babies born with a weight less than 2,500 grams are at risk for numerous health issues, and periodontal disease in the mother increases this risk.


This condition, characterized by high blood pressure and potential damage to organ systems, has been associated with periodontal disease.

Strategies for Management

Preventing and managing periodontal disease during pregnancy is crucial. Recommendations include:

Maintaining Oral Hygiene

Regular brushing, flossing, and using antimicrobial mouthwash can help reduce plaque buildup and the risk of gum disease.

Routine Dental Visits

Professional cleanings and check-ups can help manage periodontal health.

Non-Surgical Periodontal Care

Non-surgical treatments like scaling and root planing are safe during pregnancy, preferably in the second trimester.

Avoiding Certain Positions

Long periods lying flat in a dental chair should be avoided in the third trimester.

Smoking Cessation

If you smoke, quitting is strongly encouraged as smoking can exacerbate periodontal disease.

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals supports gum health.


Pregnant women should be informed about the importance of oral health and its potential impact on their pregnancy.


Periodontal disease is a significant concern during pregnancy, with the potential to impact both maternal and fetal health. Understanding the risks and implementing preventive measures can help ensure healthier outcomes for both mother and child.

Article by Dr. Harindren Subramaniam

Dentalpro, Dental Specialist Centre Kuala Lumpur

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