Dental Health and Preterm Babies


You might not  realize it, but there are more reasons to floss for pregnant women than for people who aren’t pregnant. According to some new pregnancy research, pregnant women who have gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) are actually more likely to give birth to a preemie than women who have healthy gums.

Now, before you go out and get a new and improved tooth brush, you need to know that the link between the two hasn’t yet been proven to have a causal relationship. It’s not sure whether or not taking better care of your oral hygiene would help.

Mouthwash and Pregnancy

According to the study, women who regularly used mouthwash – specifically, alcohol-free mouth rinses – had about a 75 percent less chance of going into labor early than women who did not.

The study was funded and staffed by the company that makes the particular mouthwash used in the study. They asked about 70 women who had gum disease to use a particular mouthwash twice a day for 30 days.

They then gathered a group of 155 women who also were pregnant and had gum disease, and asked them to rinse only with water.

For the women who only used water, about one in five women delivered prior to the 35th week of pregnancy. Among the women who used the mouthwash, only four delivered prematurely.

No proven relationship yet

One of the concerns about the study was, of course, that women knew which treatment they would be getting. What effect that might have had on other premature birth factors isn’t known.

However, there is some reason to think that there could be a connection. When you’re pregnant, you tend to be especially vulnerable to swelling of the gums. Prostaglandin E2 – which is a type of hormone chemical that’s also important to labor – is in part responsible for the change.

The working theory, then, is that gum disease increases this hormone, which can help to provoke an early labor.

So, what do you think? Is it possible that better dental hygiene could actually help prevent preterm birth?

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