Severe gum infections cause an increase in the production of chemicals which induce labour
Pregnant women who go to the hygienist may cut their risk of premature birth by a third, new research suggests.
Having a scale and polish removes the build-up of tartar from near the gumline, in turn reducing the risk of severe gum disease.
Although the link between gum disease and premature birth isn't clear, previous research has shown improving oral health does reduce the risk.
Doctors have previously established that severe gum infections cause an increase in the production of prostaglandin and tumour necrosis factor, chemicals which induce labour, to be produced.
Preterm births are defined as babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and have historically been linked to poor levels of oral health. In England alone, 54,000 babies are born prematurely each year.
The new research, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found there was a 34 per cent reduction in the risk of preterm births for expectant mothers suffering with gum disease if they underwent simple treatment at the dentist or hygienist.
The researchers, from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, found that women with gum disease who were at high risk of having a premature birth benefited from having a procedure called scaling and root planing.
Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said the research affirmed the need for expectant mothers to take care of their oral health during pregnancy.
He said: 'This paper adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests oral health during pregnancy is particularly important.
'While it is unreasonable to expect everyone to have impeccable oral health, all pregnant women should not neglect their mouths, particularly if there is a possibility of it having an impact on the unborn baby.'
Women with gum disease who were at high risk of having a premature birth benefited from having a procedure called scaling and root planing
He added that the importance of regular appointments with the dentist and hygienist could not be underestimated.
'The dentist or hygienist may be able to give you advice on how to care for your teeth at home if you are suffering from morning sickness, not to mention a thorough cleaning and advice on how to look after your teeth and gums at home.
'Even those with good oral health will experience changes throughout pregnancy. Some women will find their gums will bleed more easily, a problem made worse if you are already suffering from gum disease.
'As NHS dental care is free for mums to be, visiting the dentist isn’t going to impact on those vital pennies ahead of your new-born’s arrival. All you need is to be a registered NHS patient and to have a current maternity exemption certificate.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2255388/Pregnant-women-dental-hygienist-reduce-risk-premature-birth-third.html#ixzz2Gf3lVR6D
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