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Study reveals probiotics may help prevent pregnancy-related gingivitis.

Mommy’s gums are bleeding: Does oral probiotic use lower prevalence of pregnancy gingivitis?

June 26, 2024
Dental hygienists strive to keep patients' gums healthy during pregnancy. This study will show a way to help in those efforts.

This article is the first-place recipient in the informational category of the RDH Student Research program, which is sponsored by PDT.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 60% of pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis, which is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.1 The research discussed here sought to determine the efficacy of oral probiotic use to help lower the prevalence of this condition.

The study was created to evaluate whether daily oral probiotic use in the third trimester can help lower instances of pregnancy gingivitis. It measured each participant’s initial gingival index (GI), plaque index (PlI), and TNF-α serum levels and compared these during reevaluation at the end of the trial. Another goal was to promote continued studies to evaluate the efficacy of oral probiotics.

The study included individuals who were at least 21 years of age, in the beginning of their third trimester of pregnancy, with signs of gingival inflammation, and experiencing an uneventful pregnancy. Some exclusion criteria included previous pregnancy complications, systemic diseases affecting the oral cavity, periodontal pockets >5 mm, antibiotic therapy within the last six months, use of antibacterial mouth rinses or inflammatory drugs, an allergy to the ingredients in the lozenges, and the ability to follow the instructions of the study.

A total of 147 individuals were initially assessed for eligibility. Sixty-one moved on with the trial and were placed in a randomized group including the test group (n=31) and the control group (n=30). By the end of the study, 24 women remained in the test group for further analysis and 21 in the control group.

Participants were told to take a twice-daily lozenge at the beginning of their third trimester and continue until they gave birth. The test group received the L. reuteri-contained oral probiotic lozenge, while the control group received a placebo lozenge. Each person’s initial GI, PlI, and TNF-α serum levels were recorded. Once they gave birth, each person returned two days later to have their levels recorded during the reevaluation.

Results of this study

The results showed that the test group had an overall reduction in GI, PlI, and TNF-α serum levels from the initial measurements. The control group did not see a significant difference in their reevaluation levels. This study demonstrates that daily oral probiotic use in pregnancy may reduce instances of pregnancy gingivitis by reducing the overall plaque coverage and gingival inflammation levels.2

Some limitations of this study were the small sample size and the exclusion criteria that did not allow for individuals with a compromised health status to participate. There is hope for continued research on oral probiotic use with larger sample sizes and various health conditions in the future.


1. Pregnancy and oral health feature. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/features/pregnancy-and-oral-health.

2. Schlagenhauf U, Jakob LM, Eigenthaler M, Segerer S, Jockel‐Schneider Y, Rehn M. Regular consumption of Lactobacillus reuteri-containing lozenges reduces pregnancy gingivitis: an RCT. J Clin Perio. 2016;43(11):948–954. doi.10.1111/jcpe.12606. doi:10.1111/jcpe.12606

About the Author

Janelle Coria Chavez

Janelle Coria Chavez is a recent graduate of the dental hygiene completion program at Northern Arizona University. She has more than a decade of experience in the dental field as a certified dental assistant, OHI marketing director, and adjunct instructor for a CODA-accredited dental assisting school. She has a passion for bettering pre- and post-natal oral health outcomes and is involved in dental outreach programs such as the Arizona Mission of Mercy.