Most people accept the importance of brushing their teeth every day, after all, nobody likes the idea of walking around all day with dirty teeth and bad breath. But many people are not aware that poor oral health can have serious, far-reaching effects that go way beyond halitosis and stained teeth.
The mouth can harbor more than 500 different strains of bacteria, some of which are harmful and destructive. It is now known that bacteria in the oral cavity can travel through the bloodstream and affect major organs and body functions. Oral infections, particularly, gum infections are now being strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Pancreatic Cancer, Bacterial Pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Prostatitis.
Poor oral health also comes with an added risk for women who are intending having children. It is now known that oral bacteria can disseminate through the body and potentially attack the fetus and result in a preterm birth. Infection is an important cause of premature births. But gum disease can be a point of infection that often gets neglected or even goes unnoticed completely.
It is not too amazing to learn that advanced gum disease leads to receding gums and tooth loss, but many people are surprised to hear that poor oral hygiene can influence the outcome of a pregnancy. Although it has been known for many years that the health of the mouth can affect various organ systems, it is only relatively recently that significant research has been done with regard to linking periodontitis with poor pregnancy outcomes. Infections have long been known to play an import role in preterm births and periodontitis is essentially a permanently open wound with an accumulation of bacteria that can and does travel around the body via the blood.
Research lead by the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine found that by successfully treating periodontitis in pregnant women they could significantly reduce their chances of giving birth prematurely. The study looked at 322 women, all of which were suffering from gum disease.
The study group was split in two and half of the women received treatment to control their gum disease. Out of the 160 who received treatment 49 were judged to have responded successfully in that inflammation was controlled and deepening of gum pockets was halted. The study found a dramatic reduction in preterm births among the women who received successful treatment with only 8% having a premature baby compared to 62% of the women
where the treatment was unsuccessful.
Data from another US study of 1,313 pregnant women also concluded that subjects who had severe generalized periodontitis had a significantly greater chance of giving birth to a premature baby.
Studies on small sample groups should always be treated with a healthy amount of skepticism but evidence from other studies that are linking inflammatory infections with premature and low weight births should be taken heed of.
Obviously, prevention is better than cure! Having perfect oral health removes the risks
associated with oral bacteria. Maintaining good oral health is relatively simple. Visit DH Dental today and see how we can help you avoid the risks associated with gum disease and pre term birth by developing a clean, healthy oral cavity.