A new study by a New York University dental research team has discovered evidence that pregnant women with periodontal (gum) disease are more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus than pregnant women with healthy gums.
The finding underscores how important it is for all expectant mothers – even those without other risk factors – to maintain good oral health.
The study, led by Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake, Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at New York University College of Dentistry in collaboration with the Faculty of Dental Sciences at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, followed 256 women at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center through their first six months of pregnancy and found that 22 of the women developed gestational diabetes.
Those women had significantly higher levels of periodontal bacteria and inflammation than the other women in the study.
"In addition to its potential role in preterm delivery, evidence that gum disease may also contribute to gestational diabetes suggests that women should see a dentist if they plan to get pregnant, and after becoming pregnant," Dasanayake said.
"Treating gum disease during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective in improving women''s oral health and minimizing potential risks," Dasanayake added.
The findings were published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Dental Research.