New study links good oral health with lower risk of pregnancy complications
A new study suggests that good oral health can help to lower the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Researchers at the University of Sydney found that preventing and treating gum disease reduced the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Oral Health and Preventive Dentistry.
Statistics show that 20 million babies are born with low weight globally and 11% of deliveries are premature.
The research team analysed data from more than 1,000 patients.
Between 60 and 75 percent of the participants had signs of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Researchers found that treating gum disease had a positive impact, with a 50% reduction in the risk of giving birth prematurely and an average increase of 100g in birthweight.
Professor Joerg Eberhard explained that the study underlines the importance of good oral health during pregnancy, with a 50% reduction in the risk of premature birth in mothers who have healthy teeth and gums.
Gingivitis is more prevalent during pregnancy due to hormonal changes in the body. Fortunately, as Prof Eberhard explains, it is easy to treat and manage. Common symptoms include bleeding during brushing, swollen and sore gums and increased redness.
Treating gingivitis should be a priority, as mild gum disease can develop into periodontal disease, which causes irreversible damage. Targeting mild symptoms can protect the teeth and gums, as well as lowering the risk of low birth weight and premature birth.
In England, NHS dental care is free of charge for pregnant women and women who have given birth in the last 12 months. Expectant mothers are encouraged to attend frequent checks and to seek expert advice if they notice symptoms of gum disease, including inflammation, bleeding and pain.