Tammy Wynette infamously crooned "Sometimes its hard to be a woman" and it is especially true in maintaining dental health. Even the healthiest women are more prone to developing dental problems such as TMJ and burning mouth syndrome and once pregnancy is added to the mix, gingivitis, tooth loss and premature delivery are a reality. When it comes to the latter, the act of mouth rinsing may stave off an early birth.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease out there and symptoms include inflamed gums, tenderness and bleeding and statistics have indicated that approximately 50 percent of all pregnant women develop the condition. Mothers-to-be who ignore there oral hygiene will only make the condition worse and when left untreated it could develop into other issues including pregnancy tumors and full blown periodontal disease and greatly increase the odds of having a baby before its due date.
While the exact reason between poor oral health and premature delivery are unclear, it cannot be denied. According to American Academy of Periodontology "Pregnant women with periodontal (gum) disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small" (American Academy of Periodontology. Baby Steps to Healthy Pregnancy and On-Time Delivery. AAP Oral Health Tips. March 10, 2008.) It has been hypothesized that when the infection enters the bloodstream, the body will automatically produce antibodies and chemicals to fight of the condition. While the battle may help a smile, it can also cause premature labor, low birth rate and even miscarriages.
Despite not knowing the exact reason between oral health and premature birth, one thing is for sure; oral hygiene and dental care are the best ways to minimize the health risk. Research has also shown adding the act of mouth rinsing to the process will also help reduce the odds of premature deliver by 75 percent.
The research was funded and conducted by dental care product manufacturer Procter and Gamble and focused on their Crest Pro Health mouthwash, an alcohol free product. The research team requested 71 pregnant women with gum disease to use the product, twice a day for 30 seconds per session. The statistics garnered from those group participants were then compared with the findings regarding 155 pregnant women (infected gum disease) who only rinsed with water. The comparison reveled that one in 20 mouth wash users delivered prematurely, far less than the one out of five premies delivered by the water rinsers.
Most dental care experts agree that the Proctor and Gamble may not be 100 percent certain, but it does indeed show the value of oral hygiene in regards to pre-natal care. As always brushing teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day (combined both will help lower levels of dental plaque) and seeing a dentist for regular check up is the expert advice for expectant mothers.
If you are considering starting a family or have recently found out you are pregnant, seeing your dentist now can potentially save you heartache down the line. No dentist, no problem. Call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of qualified dental care provider up to the task of protecting your dental health during this time of change.