In 2009, a study showed that visiting the dentist for deep cleaning and plaque removal during pregnancy was found to have no impact on early birth outcomes. Today, a similar study implies that with a single visit to the dentist, pregnant women can lower their risk for preterm labor by a third.
Boy, you've got to love conflicting medical information. But here's the thing: there doesn't seem to be any reason NOT to visit the dentist during pregnancy, so you might as well read up on this latest claim -- because if it turns out to be accurate, stopping the progression of gum disease during pregnancy may lower your risk of a premature birth by a whopping 34 percent.
I'd say that's worth an appointment with the hygienist, wouldn't you?
The study was conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and they found that pregnant women saw a 34 percent reduction in the risk of a preterm labor if they underwent a simple dental procedure.
Well, "simple" being sort of a subjective term here, especially for dental-phobes. It's called scaling and root planing, a treatment that involves cleaning between the gums and the teeth down to the roots to remove the build-up of tartar near the gumline.
This can stop the progression of gum disease, which in turn -- according to this latest study -- dramatically lowers the risk of premature birth for pregnant women who have gum disease.
Researchers admit that the link between gum disease and premature birth isn't crystal clear, but the belief is that severe gum infections can cause an increase in the production of prostaglandin and tumor necrosis factor (chemicals which induce labor).
So who knows what sort of study will come out tomorrow, but to me it seems like this latest round of data should be enough to encourage all pregnant women to have their gums checked. If you do have gum disease and there's something relatively simple that can be done to stop it, why not do so? Not that it's anyone's idea of a good time, but let's be honest, pregnancy is pretty much one uncomfortable and awkward procedure after another. You're constantly peeing in cups and being weighed anyway, why not throw in a festive tooth-scraping visit while you're at it?
What do you think of this latest study on gum disease and pregnancy? Are you more likely to visit the dentist during (or before) pregnancy as a result?
Image via c r z/Flickr