Pre-term Births

Poor oral hygiene may contribute to premature birth.

By Alison Logee, RDH, Ayurveda & Reiki Practitioner

Increasing evidence suggests that poor oral hygiene, during pregnancy can have a negative impact on your baby’s health. Oral infection plays a role in pregnancy complications, including premature birth as well as inhibiting the growth and development of the unborn child. Any oral disease, from mild gum disease (gingivitis), to severe bone loss (periodontitis), causes infection and inflammation in the mother.

We are now more aware of the effect of increased hormones, during pregnancy and its’ effect on the gums which provoke increased bleeding and may promote bacterial overgrowth in the form of “pregnancy gingivitis”. This bleeding is not normal and indicates ulceration between the tooth and gum. These infected areas no longer have the natural skin barrier between the bacteria in dental plaque and the mother’s bloodstream.

Bacteria can therefore easily enter into the blood stream and travel to the placenta. We once thought the placenta could block these bacteria, but now evidence shows these bacteria can travel into the uterus and are present in the amniotic fluid. Contact with enough periodontal bacteria may induce a fetal immune response and result in a two-to three-fold increase in risk for preterm delivery. This means that babies can be born much earlier than the due date.

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene during pregnancy. Eating healthy and visiting your Dental Hygienist for a dental cleaning will contribute to a healthy body and healthy delivery.