Poor oral health in pregnant women linked to pre-term, low-birth weight babies
Washington: A new study has indicated that women with periodontal disease may be at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such giving birth to a pre-term or low-birth weight baby.
Periodontal disease is a chronic, bacteria-induced, inflammatory condition that attacks the gum tissue and in more severe cases, the bone supporting the teeth.
If left untreated, periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can lead to tooth loss and has been associated with other systemic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"Tenderness, redness, or swollen gums are a few indications of periodontonal disease," Dr. Nancy L. Newhouse, DDS, MS, President of the AAP and a practicing periodontist in Independence, Missouri, said.
"Other symptoms include gums that bleed with toothbrushing or eating, gums that are pulling away from the teeth, bad breath, and loose teeth. These signs, especially during pregnancy, should not be ignored and may require treatment from a dental professional," she said.
Several research studies have suggested that women with periodontal disease may be more likely to deliver babies prematurely or with low-birth weight than mothers with healthy gums.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies with a birth weight of less than 5.5 pounds may be at risk of long-term health problems such as delayed motor skills, social growth, or learning disabilities.
Similar complications are true for babies born at least three weeks earlier than its due date.
Other issues associated with pre-term birth include respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss, or feeding and digestive problems.
The medical and dental communities concur that maintaining periodontal health is an important part of a healthy pregnancy.
The findings are published in the Journal of Periodontology and Journal of Clinical Periodontology.