Mouthwashing moms less likely to have a preemie - Dr. Charles Bell

by Dr. Charles Bell 26. September 2014 09:26

dr. charles bell

I came across this article from Reuters Health by Kerry Grens and it shows a growing body of evidence that oral health in pregnant women is vital to the baby's health.

Pregnant women with gum disease are known to have a significantly higher rate of premature births when compared to women with healthy mouths. The overall link is unclear but an increasing sense of improved oral hygiene having a positive impact on premature births is beginning to become a more widely held belief.

The new study sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, showed that regularly us of an alcohol-free mouth rinse appeared to reduce women's risk of early labor by about 75%.

The research team asked 71 pregnant women with gum disease to rinse twice a day for 30 seconds with Crest Pro Health mouth. This is P&G's non-alcohol mouthwash. The rate of premature births was compared between the group who used the rinse versus those who just rinsed with water. One in 5 mothers rinsing with water had early deliveries versus one in 20 for the Pro Health users.

The study did not scientifically identify why the mouthwash was linked to the decreased premature births, but the assumption is that gum disease is involved.

Dr Marjorie Jeffcoat, the lead author if the study and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, hypothesis is that inflammation in gum disease involves the hormone-like substance prostaglandin E2. This is the same chemical that is involved in labor. The increased levels of systemic E2 present with gum disease may incite early labor.

Therefore treating the gum disease and decreasing the inflammation in the mouth would cause a decrease of E2 in the blood stream and reduce the risk of early labor.

Aggressive teeth-cleaning and more frequent cleanings during pregnancy is also used to treat gum disease.

Jeffcoat cautioned, "Obviously, if you don't have periodontal disease this in not going to help" reduce your risk of pre-term birth.

All dentists agree it's important for pregnant women to take care of their oral health. Jeffcoat states "The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention."

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Taking Care of Your Teeth

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