Once you know that periodontal disease, a nasty gum condition, can be responsible for sending a woman into pre-term labor, the connection between mouthwash and full term pregnancy may be less enigmatic. But does using mouthwash really prevent gum disease? There are many skeptics when it comes to that idea, but the study found that women who used a non-alcoholic mouthwash had a 75 percent less chance of going into labor prematurely!
The mentioned study was certainly a clever marketing move, and the research team included staff from Procter and Gamble, the company whose mouthwash Crest Pro Health mouthwash was used in the study. The study participants included 71 women who already suffered from gum disease. They were asked to use the mouthwash for 30 seconds, twice a day. Another group of 155 women with gum disease rinsed with water. A fifth of the control group ended up giving birth to their babies before 35 weeks of pregnancy, while only one in 20 of the mouthwash users had a preemie. The study's lead author actually suggested that the fact the women knew whether they were using water or the mouthwash could have influenced the findings.
I find it hard to believe that mouthwash could work as a placebo on the uterus though. The process by which periodontal disease can cause pre-term labor is thought to be connected to hormones that are produced in reaction to the inflammation. It has been a known fact that gum disease in pregnancy is linked to early labor, but gum disease is also notoriously difficult to treat. Hopefully this study will lead to a breakthrough in treatment!