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Oral cleaning habits and the copy number of periodontal bacteria in pregnant women and its correlation with birth outcomes: an epidemiological study in Mibilizi, Rwanda

Hiroaki Arima, Akintije Simba Calliope, Hideki Fukuda, Theoneste Nzaramba, Marie Goretti Mukakarake, Takayuki Wada, Takashi Yorifuji, Leon Mutesa,
Published: 26 September 2022

Abstract: Background: Since 1996, many studies have reported that periodontal disease during pregnancy may be a risk factor for preterm birth and low birth weight; however, in Africa, periodontal disease is considered a non-high-priority disease. In addition, there are few dental facilities in rural Rwanda; thus, the oral condition of pregnant women has not been investigated. The objective of this study was to assess the tooth brushing habits of pregnant women in rural Rwanda and evaluate whether periodontal bacteria in the oral cavity of pregnant women are related to birth outcomes or oral cleaning habits. Methods: A questionnaire survey and saliva collection were conducted for pregnant women in the catchment area population of Mibilizi Hospital located in the western part of Rwanda. Real-time PCR was performed to quantitatively detect total bacteria and 4 species of periodontal bacteria. The relationship of the copy number of each bacterium and birth outcomes or oral cleaning habits was statistically analyzed. Results: Among the participants, high copy numbers of total bacteria, Tannerella forsythia, and Treponema denticola were correlated with lower birth weight (p = 0.0032, 0.0212, 0.0288, respectively). The sex ratio at birth was higher in women who had high copy numbers of Porphyromonas gingivalis and T. denticola during pregnancy (p = 0.0268, 0.0043). Furthermore, regarding the correlation between oral cleaning habits and the amount of bacteria, the more frequently teeth were brushed, the lower the level of P. gingivalis (p = 0.0061); the more frequently the brush was replaced, the lower the levels of P. gingivalis and T. forsythia (p = 0.0153, 0.0029). Conclusions: This study suggested that improving tooth brushing habits may reduce the risk of periodontal disease among pregnant women in rural Rwanda. It also indicated that the amount of bacteria is associated with various birth outcomes according to the bacterial species. Both access to dental clinics and the oral cleaning habits of pregnant women should be important considerations in efforts to alleviate reproductive-related outcomes in rural Africa.
Keywords: Periodontal bacteria / Rwanda / Pregnant women / Low birth weight / Preterm birth

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