Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Treating gum disease lowered premature births by 84%?

BBC NEWS | Health | Dental care 'cuts early births': "A study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed treating severe gum disease with scaling and root care cut premature births by 84%."

Hugh?! 84% is huge, but there were only @360 participants in the study. I wonder if they were selected for high risk of premature birth or for poor dental care. I suspect that this is poor journalism rather than a figure that could be extrapolated to the population at large.

On the other hand, bad gums are known to shower the bloodstream with a constant stream of bacteria. These bacteria are thought to lodge in a number of places, including arterial plaques (hence playing a role in atherosclerosis) and in the placenta (hence aging the placenta and possibly precipitating premature birth and/or pre-eclampsia). So the effect is not entirely implausible.

To put it mildly more research is needed. If this is born out it will be very good news for dental hygeinists. It's also great news for health care costs. The costs of care for a 30-32 week infant will pay for a LOT of peridontal cleanings.

Red wine, olive oil, and clean gums. The secrets to longer, happier lives? Hey, it's easier than exercise!

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