Treating gingivitis during pregnancy can lower the risk of preterm and low weight infants.
This is according to new research carried out by the University of Sydney.
Published in the Journal of Oral Health and Preventive Dentistry, the study analysed whether the treatment of gum disease affects the outcomes of pregnancy.
Around 20 million children are born with low birth weight worldwide, with 11% of all live births born premature.
Looking at more than 1,000 patients, the positive impact of well-maintained oral health was found in more than 600 women. Around 60 to 75% of participants were affected by gingivitis.
Inexpensive and accessible
The disease releases inflammatory markers and bacteria into the blood stream, say researchers. This may reach the placenta and influence poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm births.
‘Our study shows that if gum inflammation is treated during pregnancy, the risk of a baby being born preterm is reduced by approximately 50 percent. Or the birthweight increases around 100 grams in babies born with low birth weight,’ said senior author, Professor Joerg Eberhard.
‘In fact, the risk was halved if the mother had good oral health, which is a compelling finding.
‘The good news is treatment for gingivitis is very easy to perform and is inexpensive and accessible. A dental check-up and clean every six months should prevent and treat any gum inflammation.’
‘Vital’ part of pregnancy
Lead author Quynh Anh Le added: ‘These findings add to the new focus on the impact of good oral health on general health, particularly for pregnant women.
‘Prevention of gingivitis in women during pregnancy would provide enormous health benefits.
‘It’s important that women and health providers around the world know that taking good care of oral hygiene is not just for the health of the mother but also for her baby.
‘Regular dental checks, dental cleaning and treatment of any gum inflammation should be a vital part of pregnancy care for all women.’
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