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Can mouthwash lower premature birth rates?

Pregnant women are at risk for gum disease because of hormonal changes in their bodies. Gum disease poses health risks to both the mother and the unborn child – but using alcohol-free mouthwash may lower the risk of preterm delivery!

Premature births are nearly 13% of all births in the US, and pose many medical complications for proper development. Infection of any kind can cause preterm birth, and oral infections are particularly common among pregnant women. Due to increased levels of progesterone, the gums can react differently to the presence of bacteria in the mouth. Gum inflammation and bleeding can occur, sometimes leading to full-blown gingivitis.

A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine found that women who had gingivitis but used mouthwash reduced their risk of premature pregnancy by 75%. One in twenty women who used alcohol-free mouthwash delivered prematurely, compared to one in five births for women who also had gingivitis but did not rinse with mouthwash.

Oral health is of paramount importance to pregnant women, and studies like this show that simple preventive measures can have a significant impact on the health of the mother and child. Pregnant women should seek the advice of a dental care practitioner early in their term for overall well-being and a healthy delivery.