8 BABIES A DAY BORN WITH CHD – – CAN DENTISTRY HELP?

8 BABIES A DAY BORN WITH CHD – – CAN DENTISTRY HELP?

I was shocked to see in the press, that eight babies are born a day with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Childhood heart disease, otherwise known as CHD or congenital heart disease, remains one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented health related issues in Australia. Basically we don’t really know what is causing it. With this having been said, there is research that points towards a potential causal relationship.

Research on “The oral microbiome and adverse pregnancy outcomes” published in the International Journal of Womens Health, stated the following:

Regardless of the origin, infections leading to adverse pregnancy outcomes that involve bacteria common to the oral cavity raise at least two relevant questions from a public health viewpoint:

  1. Will preconception treatment of periodontal disease, that is, reduction of inflammation, bacterial loads, and inflammatory mediators, in a reproductive age female, reduce the incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes?
  2. Given the possibility of transmission of oral pathogenic microbes during sexual activities, will preconception treatment of periodontal disease in both partners reduce the incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes?

As General Dental Practitioners, it has always been up to us to go with what we see, what we understand might be a good idea and go and treat rather than always waiting for the research. In other words, sometimes we get there before the research and the research comes along and either proves or disproves what we are doing clinically. It was for this reason that one of my mentors used to say, “What I am telling you now I may not believe in five years!” However it was his belief at the time.

Going back to the late 1920’s there is research carried out by Dr Weston Price, into the nutritional habits of primitive tribes. One observation was, that prior to conception, both parents were required to go on a special diet to ensure the healthiest outcome for the newborn. He further noted facial and dental changes when primitive people living on their “not so primitive” diet were subjected to the western diet. He witnessed a narrowing in dental arch size within the same generation of children exposed to the western diet and an increase in tooth decay. Tooth decay will be the topic of a future blog, however it is distressing to know that after 40 years in practice we still face an epidemic of tooth decay!

Treatment of periodontal disease prior to conception plus good nutritional choices would appear to make sense. Maybe it won’t reduce the number of babies with CHD, but what if it did? What a difference this would make to the child, to the family and also the healthcare community.

Most dental practices believe in prevention, oral hygiene is an important aspect of dental care. The problem is, if you don’t go, you’ll never know. Attendance shouldn’t be decided on by cost nor fear!

Wouldn’t it make sense for parents to be, to have free treatment prior to conception and then throughout pregnancy? If this reduced the incidence of CHD, the cost saving on expensive CHD treatment could be dramatically reduced. Further the emotional trauma suffered by both parents would be reduced.

We don’t need new research to tell us how to keep the mouth clean, we don’t need new research to tell us about the right dietary choices, we just need to do it, simply because maybe it will help. In the end the research will prove us right or wrong, but as we are using best practice, we cannot do any better than that!

Can Dentistry Help — I do hope so. “PLEASE GET A CHECK UP!”

ref: Cobb CM, Kelly PJ, Williams KB, Babbar S, Angolkar M, Derman RJ. The oral microbiome and adverse pregnancy outcomes. International Journal of Women’s Health. 2017;9:551-559. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S142730.