13 Jul Low Weight Births Found to Occur More in Women with Gum Disease
If you are a woman either contemplating a pregnancy or currently pregnant, you should know that periodontal gum disease has been shown to increase the chances of having a pre-mature and/or low weight birth. It has also been found that hormonal changes in women, such as occur during pregnancy, can make women more prone to contracting and escalating periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is a disease of the gums and supportive tissues of the teeth. Periodontitis causes the tissue to shrink and pull away from the teeth, exposing the underlying foundational bone to bacteria. If not treated, periodontal disease will damage the jawbone and cause teeth to loosen and come out.
During hormonal changes, women experience fluctuations in their chemistry that often make their gums more sensitive and susceptible to bacterial invasion. If good oral health isn’t pursued, especially prior to and during pregnancy, these bacteria can enter the bloodstream and infect the reproductive system, including the womb and its fetus. The main contributing factor identified through research is that bacteria entering the reproductive system can cause genitourinary tract infection which triggers a rapid increase in labor-inducing biological fluids which can cause premature delivery. Bacteria associated with periodontal disease have been identified as a source of genitourinary tract infection and, thus, to premature and low weight births.
There are approximately 250,000 babies born prematurely in the United States that weigh less than 5.5 pounds. It has been suggested through studies that as many as 18 percent of that number are due to periodontal infection. It has also been suggested by doctors that a 50 percent decrease in preterm and low birth weight children, as well as Chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis and other reproductive tract infections, can be achieved by simply following good oral health practices.
It is, therefore, extremely important for women to stick to a consistent regiment of good oral health practices while going through pregnancy. However, practicing good oral hygiene is important all the time, not only during times of pregnancy since bacteria which grow in the mouth have also been linked to numerous other health issues, many of which are quite serious.
Dentists recommend forming a habit of good oral hygiene through the twice daily brushing of teeth and flossing beforehand to remove plaque and food items stuck between teeth. Two or more dental maintenance visits are also recommended so that dental problems can be avoided or detected and treated early.
Want to see all the other health issues that can stem from not taking care of your teeth? Check out our interactive dental resource! It’ll change the way you think about oral health!
This article is part of our blog series, “The Deadly Consequences of Poor Dental Care“
Yiorgos A. Bobetsis, DDS, PhD, Silvana P. Barros, DDS, PhD and Steven Offenbacher, DDS, PhD, MMSc. “Exploring the relationship between periodontal disease and pregnancy complications.” The Journal of the American Dental Association (October 2006) 137, 7S-13S