A recent study has shown that the state of a woman’s oral health during pregnancy can actually increase the risk of a premature birth. Specifically, it is gum disease that has the biggest impact on pregnancy outcomes. This finding places new emphasis on the importance of oral health. As a result, it is of increased importance for pregnant women to take extra care of their oral health.
Recent research has found that pregnant women with gum disease are much more likely to have premature births when compared to those with better oral/gum health.
When a woman is pregnant, they will go through many changes throughout their body. As part of these changes, a person will become increasingly vulnerable to gingivitis, which is a form of gum disease. Therefore, they become more at risk of having a premature birth.
This research has shown the importance of having strong oral health in pregnancy. Oral health impacts physical health, therefore heightening the importance of oral health even further.
The impact of gum disease
Gum disease can be a debilitating condition. It is however very common, with research showing that approximately 90% of the world’s population has some form of gum disease .
Gum disease is inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is a rather mild version of gum disease, whilst periodontal disease is a more severe form of gum disease. It is caused by an accumulation of plaque. Gum disease can cause problems for the bone around the tooth, and result in tooth loss in some cases.
The accumulation of plaque in gum disease is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene. For example, this may include not brushing teeth enough. The inflammation associated with gum disease causes many physical health problems.
The link between gum disease and birth problems
Gingivitis can cause many problems. An issue is that gingivitis can be triggered by hormonal imbalance . As pregnancy involves mass changes in hormones, a pregnant woman automatically becomes more susceptible to the condition. Potential consequences to gingivitis include high blood pressure, gum tissue ulcers, loose teeth, dry mouth and pregnancy granuloma .
Premature birth is one of the biggest issues linked to gum disease. Around the world, 1 in 10 births are premature . Unfortunately, babies born prematurely have a higher risk of having brain injuries and hearing and vision impairments .
So, while it is known that gum disease does have a negative impact on pregnancy and premature birth, it is also important to consider which treatments can lessen any issues. The researchers wanted to see potential treatments for gum disease that could lessen instances of premature births.
The research was carried out by researchers at the University of Sydney. The researchers investigated and analyzed the pregnancies and oral health of almost 1,000 women .
As part of the study, the participants were given supragingival and subgingival scaling by a dentist. The dentists also provided the participants with knowledge on how they could maintain strong oral health .
Scaling is seen as the most effective treatment for emerging gum disease. Scaling involves a dental professional removing all of the plaque above (supragingival) and below the gumline (subgingival). Tartar, which is hardened plaque, is also removed as part of the process.
After the participants were given the scaling treatments, the researchers then waited for the results of the births, in terms of whether or not they were premature and the birth weight of the child .
The researchers found that the scaling treatments had a very positive effect. Women that received the treatment had a statistically reduced risk of premature birth. Moreover, the researchers found that a higher birth weight was common .
These were very positive findings. These results show the importance of treating gum disease. It will have wider physical health benefits too.
What the study shows
Explaining their findings, the authors said that gum disease releases inflammatory markets and bacteria into the bloodstream of an individual . This can eventually reach the placenta. Therefore, it can affect the growth and eventual birth of the child.
The findings of this study emphasize the importance of seeking early treatment for whenever a person is being affected by gum disease. The sooner it is treated, the less likely it is to cause problems. As evidenced by these findings, gum disease can have a debilitating effect on pregnancy outcomes, including premature birth.
Most people are aware that pregnant women need to be careful about their overall health, and take care of the precious child they are carrying. Part of this overall approach must involve valuing their oral health.
1) If you, or someone you know, is pregnant, we recommend making an appointment as soon as possible. As this research shows, oral health during pregnancy is crucial. A regular check-up will give the mother a chance to receive an update on their current oral health, and be given advice on things they can do to improve their dental hygiene.
2) This research shows the physical health benefits that gum scaling can have. Therefore, if you are concerned with the state of your gums, or already have a diagnosis of gum disease, we would recommend that you explore the idea of scaling. Root planing is also normally completed as part of this treatment.
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provides a warm welcome and comfortable experience to its patience whenever needed.
We recommend that our patients attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. We also have some cosmetic treatments too!
Importantly, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
 Pihlstrom, B. L., Michalowicz, B. S., & Johnson, N. W. (2005). Periodontal diseases. Lancet. 366 (9499): p1809-1820.
 Komine-Aizawa, S., Aizawa, S., & Hayakawa, S. (2018). Periodontal diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. 45 (1): p5-12.
 Harrison, M. S., & Goldenberg, R. L. (2016). Global burden of prematurity. Seminars in fetal and neonatal medicine. 21(2): p74-79.
 Fox, G. F. (2002). Available statistics on premature birth. Fetal and Maternal Medicine Review. 13(3): p195-211.
 Lewis, P. (2022). Risks Of Premature Birth Can Be Reduced By Good Oral Care. Available: https://globalcirculate.com/risks-of-premature-birth-can-be-reduced-by-good-oral-care/. Last accessed: 13th January 2022.