The findings, which were publicised at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Washington last week, followed over 1,000 pregnant women between six and 20 weeks gestation.
The study monitored 160 participants diagnosed with periodontal disease and compared them to 872 pregnant women who had good levels of oral health.
The results showed that subjects who were successfully treated for their periodontal disease had significantly lower incidence of preterm birth less than 35 weeks gestation.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter believes this paper adds to the growing evidence around links between gum disease and pre–term babies.
Dr Carter said: “Together with a paper presented at last year’s IADR in Miami this proves a positive link between successful treatment of the gum disease and reducing the likelihood of a pre–term birth.
“It is further strong evidence that pregnant women should take care of their periodontal health and receive appropriate treatment during their pregnancy to reduce as far as possible their chance of a pre–term birth.”
The research showed that women with periodontal disease were over three times more likely to give birth prematurely than women with good oral health and had a one in four chance of giving birth before 35 weeks.
Those who had gum disease were treated with scaling and root planning, with periodontal examinations before and after the procedures.
The research, entitled ‘Risk of Preterm Birth Is Reduced with Successful Periodontal Treatment’ was presented on by the lead author M. Jeffcott on March 5 during the 39th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research.
The National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188) receives thousands of calls every year from pregnant women looking for advice on dental and general oral health issues during pregnancy, alongside enquiries to the www.dentalhealth.org website.
Dr Carter added: “Due to hormone changes during pregnancy, some women’s dental health needs closer attention during this time. For instance, you may notice that your gums appear to bleed more easily.
“This means that you must keep a high standard of oral hygiene, visiting your dentist regularly. This may include appointments with the dental hygienist for thorough cleaning, and advice on caring for your teeth at home.
The study follows the first documented link earlier this year between a foetal death and the mother’s pregnancy–related gum disease.
“The case has shown that improving oral healthcare amongst pregnant women can have a significant impact on an unborn baby. For some women, teeth become less of a priority while they are pregnant and this can also prove a big factor on the baby’s health.”
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539792 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the public can contact the Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188, Monday to Friday, or by emailing email@example.com.
The Foundation’s website can be found at www.dentalhealth.org.
A series of free ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets, covering topics such as dental care for mother and baby, children’s teeth, gum disease and dental decay, amongst others are also available.
The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 39year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers, and runs National Smile Month each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health.
When you are pregnant you must have a healthy, balanced diet containing all the necessary vitamins and minerals. Good nutrition from the mother during pregnancy is important for the baby’s teeth to develop. Calcium in particular is important to produce strong bones and healthy teeth. This can be found in milk, cheese and other dairy products.
Women who suffer from morning sickness may want to eat ‘little and often’. If you are often sick, rinse your mouth afterwards with plain water to prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth. Try to avoid sugary and acidic snacks and drinks between meals to protect your teeth against decay.
‘Risk of Preterm Birth Is Reduced with Successful Periodontal Treatment,’ was conducted by M. Jeffcott, alongside colleagues S. Parry and M. Sammel, all from the University of Pennsylvania and G. Macones, from Washington University.