News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
Gum Treatment Reduces Risk Of Preterm and Low-Weight Baby
When "pregnancy gingivitis" is treated, risk for a preterm and low-weight baby is reduced by 68%, according to a recent study published in the November, 2005, issue of the Journal of Periodontology. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum infection that leads to tooth loss in later stages (periodontitis). Gingivitis that develops because of hormonal changes during gestation is called pregnancy gingivitis. This study suggests that gingivitis is an independent risk factor for preterm and low weight babies. Therapeutic intervention through teeth cleaning and dental hygiene instruction reduces preterm birth and low-weight infant rates significantly.
This study is consistent with two other well-known studies which reported on reduced incidences of preterm and low weight birth rates when more advanced forms of gum disease were treated during pregnancy. The reduction in risk ranged from 71% to 84%.
Based on these studies it recommended that if periodontal infection is diagnosed at any time during pregnancy, treatment should be started as soon as possible to reduce risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Those contemplating becoming pregnant should also be evaluated for gum disease and dental problems prior to becoming pregnant.
These studies are more evidence that oral health is intricately interconnected with general health. Previous studies suggest that heart and respiratory disorders are associated with gum infection.
That your great smile gives the impression of vitality and health is based on good science. So brush at least twice a day and see your dentist regularly.