1. Lewis, Judith A.
  2. Lewis, Judith A. PhD, RNC, FAAN

Article Content

Tucker, R. (2006). Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 126, 24-27.


An increasing amount of evidence links maternal periodontal disease and preterm low birthweight. Approximately 10% to 15% of people are particularly susceptible to periodontitis, whereas about 10% of the population seems to be completely resistant. The remaining 75% to 80% of the population have varying degrees of susceptibility. Susceptibility may be influenced by factors such as level of oral hygiene, tobacco smoking, and diabetes. This article suggests that immunosuppression during the second trimester of pregnancy is linked with pregnancy gingivitis and that plaque control (both self-care at home and professional prophylaxis) is especially important during pregnancy. Emerging evidence that suggests a higher risk of preterm low-birthweight deliveries makes effective dental care even more critical. Several studies in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere suggest the connection between poorer periodontal health and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including late spontaneous abortion and low birthweight. Because periodontal disease is symptom free until the disease is advanced, women who do not avail themselves of regular dental care can have undiagnosed periodontitis. It is important for nurses, midwives, and physicians to make pregnant women aware of the importance of good oral healthcare and encourage them to visit the dentist regularly during pregnancy.

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Judith A. Lewis