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Bleeding gums in pregnancy is super common, but it shouldn’t be ignored. A new Australian study has revealed treating gingivitis in pregnancy is linked to a reduced risk of premature birth and low newborn birth weight.

It’s prompted a call for free dental services for pregnant women to get regular check-ups to prevent gum inflammation.

The University of Sydney research found that treating gingivitis, which is gum inflammation that causes bleeding gums, during pregnancy could help reduce the risk of premature birth.

Bleeding gums in pregnancy

While previous studies had found that periodontitis (irreversible severe gum infection) is linked to poor pregnancy outcomes, this is the first time researchers have investigated whether gingivitis (which is common and preventable) is also related to poor pregnancy outcomes.

“Due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, pregnant women are susceptible to gingivitis, with 60 percent to 75 percent affected, so it’s very common,” explained senior author Professor Joerg Eberhard.

“Oral infection can have systemic effects in the body. Gingivitis releases inflammatory markers and bacteria into the systemic blood stream which may reach the placenta and induce poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm delivery. Our review found that surprisingly even mild inflammation in the oral cavity, which also includes the gums, can negatively affect pregnancy outcomes including babies born premature or with low birth weight, so it is essential to manage this risk factor.”

The study revealed that if gum inflammation is treated during pregnancy, the risk of a baby being born preterm is reduced by 50%.

“Or the birthweight increases around 100 grams in babies born with low birth weight,” Professor Eberhard said. “In fact, the risk was halved if the mother had good oral health, which is a compelling finding.

“The good news is treatment for gingivitis is very easy to perform and is inexpensive and accessible. A dental check-up and clean every six months should prevent and treat any gum inflammation.”

Call for free pregnancy dental care

The lead author of the study says preventing gingivitis in pregnant women would have huge health benefits.

“It’s important that women and health providers around the world know that taking good care of oral hygiene is not just for the health of the mother but also for her baby,” lead author Quynh Anh Le from Sydney Dental School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, said.

“Regular dental checks, dental cleaning and treatment of any gum inflammation should be a vital part of pregnancy care for all women.”

The researchers say it’s a global public health issue, and could improve birth outcomes worldwide.

“All pregnant women should be encouraged to have dental check-ups and gingivitis treatment if necessary,” said Professor Eberhard.

Dental services for pregnant women should be provided free of charge to encourage mothers to get regular checks during their pregnancy to prevent any gum inflammation.”

The researchers say they’re not suggesting gum inflammation is the single factor for preterm birth and low birth weight, but that  gum health should be a part of prenatal care.

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  • I’d like to see dental care covered under Medicare. It use to be (not sure if it still is or not), that the NHS would provide a free yearly clean and check-up for people. The amount of other health problems cause by poor dental health, it would probably be worth it financially too.

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  • Never realised that this could cause problems for an unborn child.

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  • Dental should be covered by Medicare, it’s ridiculously expensive

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  • I think this care need for every one. It is very expensive to afford low income families.

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  • Mine are bad right now, makes sense

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  • I usually have good gums but mine were bad during pregnancy

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  • I think dental care should be better priced for everyone in all honesty.

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  • Frankly, I think dental care overall needs to be improved.


    • Yes and mental health (psychologists and psychiatrists) too !!

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  • I agree there should be more affordable dental for anyone who is struggling financially, whether pregnant or not.

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  • I did not realise there was such a connection between bleeding gums and pregnancy. I have gone to the dentist twice a year for quite a while, even before I first fell pregnant. Glad to know it would have helped!

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  • Dental is covered in my fund. Private health is a must these days.


    • We don’t have private health fund, just Medicare and an insurance for extra. Base extra’s at Australian Unity is about $27.90 per month pp and covers all our oral check ups, covers big part of my glasses too

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  • I always thought bleeding gums in pregnancy was normal due to increased blood flow. Not gingervitis

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  • I had my pregnancies in Northern Ireland and dental check ups are free there since many years for those who’re pregnant and the first year post birth.

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  • I didn’t go to the Dentist for many years. Mainly due to the cost, I thought it was a rip off I was on the free public health waiting list for about 2 years to get a hole filled. After years more of not going I ended up with a very serious wisdom tooth infection my whole face was swollen and needed antibiotics. Due to the pandemic, the surgery I needed was actually banned because it would make particles in the air! Super scary! I was worried I was going to die. I was couch-bound and could not look after my daughter (thanks to her dad for taking care of her) They could push out the wisdom tooth on top without a drill so they did that to give it more room in the meantime. I waited months more on the emergency list for them to allow the procedure again, which got very seriously bad again and I needed to go to the hospital they took 3 wisdom teeth out under general anesthetic and it was a horrible experience the pain after was very close but different to giving birth. Even codeine did not help the pain. Since that, I decided to take care of my teeth. $200 for a check-up at the private doctor was not an expense, but an investment in my health! My teeth were so much more beautiful after removing the calcium buildup, I felt so much more confident. I paid an extra $350 to then get the 2 holes I had fixed. They took Zip pay which meant I could actually pay it off just like a lay-buy after the service and choose how often and how much I paid – so handy!! My teeth feel and look their best in years. If you have been putting it off I would definitely recommend you go and if money is an issue find somewhere that does Zip pay it’s a life changer!


    • A wise decision, you and your teeth are worth it !

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  • Dentist visits can be costly. Pregnancy is an important stage to see a dentist, but unfortunately care needs to occur prior to pregnancy as x-rays etc cannot be performed.

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