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Gum Disease in Pregnant Moms: Lean babies & Early birth

The mouth serves as a mirror to general health and also as a portal for disease to the rest of the body. Periodontitis, also generally called gum disease or pyorrhoea, begins with bacterial growth in the mouth and may end — if not properly treated — with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. . Gum diseases are among the most common diseases in humans, affecting 5% to 30% of the adult population. A number of factors are responsible for this viz. poor oral hygiene, habits like tobacco & smoking, systemic illness like diabetes, hormonal changes like pregnancy. Of these, the association between periodontitis & adverse pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth & low birth weight babies is long been studied and documented. Pre-term birth is a major cause of infant mortality and morbidity that has considerable social, medical, and economic repercussions and among survivors, a major contributor to long-term disability.

In women with gum diseases, the infection in the mouth provides a portal for entry of oral bacteria and their products to reach the site of developing child. The inflammatory changes produced as a result of infection impact the fetal–placental unit leading to complications.

A number of studies documented in the literature suggest that treating the gum disease in pregnant females could significantly reduce the pregnancy complications. This has important entailment, especially in the arena of public health as periodontal diseases are both preventable & curable.

Treatment and prevention of gum disease is possible with simple yet cost-effective measures which can be instituted from the very home of the individual. Maintaining a good oral hygiene should be a part of antenatal care in pregnant women. There should be an increase in the programs for pregnant women on the importance of oral health maintenance.By addressing the cause, health promotion regarding periodontitis can be done for pregnant women at a community level. This is important in view of the poor level of knowledge & attitude which prevail among the population regarding oral health in pregnancy.

Dr.Nandika Dubey
Oral Physician & Maxillofacial Radiologist