Why Moms-To-Be Will Want To Get Their Gums Checked

There's plenty to worry about as an expectant mother, and going into preterm labor can be high on the list. Causes of premature birth are often unknown, but new research shows that the health of your teeth and gums may play a role in when your baby is born.

When we don't take care of our dental hygiene, we're more at risk for gum disease, also known as periodontitis (via Mayo Clinic). This infection damages the gums and can harm the bones that support the teeth, leading to loosening teeth and even tooth loss. Improper oral care can cause long-term gum inflammation, which can then create pockets between the gums and teeth that can fill up with bacteria, leading to infection. Not only can periodontitis lead to tooth loss, but it's also linked with respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and difficulty controlling blood sugar in diabetes. Luckily, it's easily prevented by brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing once per day, and getting dental cleanings twice a year.

How gum disease might contribute to preterm births

A new study, presented at a meeting of the European Federation of Periodontology in Copenhagen, found that gum disease may affect the likelihood of expectant mothers having preterm births. The study included 33 women whose babies were preterm, meaning born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and 44 who had full-term babies. Researchers gathered information on the participants' ages, smoking habits, health conditions, and whether or not they were taking medication.The preliminary findings, which aren't yet published but support earlier research, showed that women who had premature births often had gum inflammation and pockets between the gums and teeth (via U.S. News & World Report). They also had greater loss of tissues supporting the teeth and higher levels of oral bacteria than mothers who had full-term deliveries.

This research is significant, as preterm births account for 10% of all births, 75% of perinatal deaths, and contribute to 50% of developmental disorders in children. With proper oral hygiene, you can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease.