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A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, has shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to experience premature labour.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is a chronic disease that destroys bone and gum tissues that support the teeth. Without the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place, teeth will become wobbly and can be lost.
It has long been understood that there is a link between gum disease and a number of other ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease, but research has now also discovered that women who entered labour early were 45% more likely to have gum disease than women who experienced a perfect pregnancy.
During the study, researchers examined the pregnancies and oral health of almost 150 women. The researchers discovered that women who went into early labour recorded significantly lower gum health scores than those who didn’t.
The study also found that early birth rates were more common for women with untreated tooth decay or fillings.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, had this to say regarding the findings of the study:
“The health of our mouth can have a direct influence on many parts of our general health. This includes the chance of having a safer birth”.
“Many women find it more difficult to maintain good oral health during pregnancy. This is because hormonal changes during this time can leave gums more vulnerable to plaque and more likely to be sore and swollen. They may even bleed”.
Oral health during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and are worried about your oral health, you should visit an NHS dentist. During pregnancy and for the year following birth, you are exempt from NHS banding charges, meaning that regular check-ups are free. Dental treatment is safe during pregnancy, to err on the side of caution, dentists usually prefer to avoid taking dental x-rays during pregnancy to negate any risk of radiation.
You should also maintain a good oral hygiene routine, by brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and electric toothbrush. You should also clean in-between your teeth on a daily basis, with either Tepe brushes or dental floss. You should also aim to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, containing all the vitamins that you and your baby require.