Pregnancy and gingival inflammation


Hormonal changes during pregnancy are considered to affect the response of the gingival tissues, with studies suggesting that  36% – 100%  of pregnant women suffer pregnancy gingivitis.  The aim of this review was to assess the effect of pregnancy on systemically healthy women in terms of gingival inflammation.

The Medline and Embase databases were searched together with the Journal of Periodontology, Journal of Periodontal Research, and Journal of Clinical Periodontology. The references of identified papers were also checked.

Prospective cohort or cross-sectional studies assessing the effect of pregnancy on periodontal health in English were considered.  Screening and data abstraction was conducted independently by two reviewers with quality being assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. The main outcome variable was gingival inflammation, evaluated by gingival index (GI) or bleeding on probing (BOP).

  • 33 studies (14 cohort and 19 cross-sectional) were included.
  • A significantly lower GI was seen in the first term compared to those in their second or third terms of pregnancy
  • Lower mean GI scores in postpartum women compared to women in their second or third term of pregnancy
  • Non-pregnant women had lower mean GI values than women in their second or third term of pregnancy.

The authors concluded

Despite the limited number of studies included in the meta-analyses, the present systematic review confirms the existence of a significant increase in GI throughout pregnancy and between pregnant versus postpartum or non-pregnant women, without a concomitant increase in plaque levels.


The authors highlight a number of potential issues with this review that should be taken into consideration.  The inclusion of different study designs, the variable periodontal criteria across the studies and the fact that some study data was missing, only presented graphically so they could not be included in the meta-analyses.  In addition the authors have only included English language studies so there are likely to be additional relevant studies that could have been included.


Elena Figuero, Ana Carrillo-de-Albornoz, Conchita Martín,  Aurelio Tobías, David Herrera.  Effect of pregnancy on gingival inflammation in systemically healthy women: a systematic review.  Journal of Clinical Periodontology ;accepted article doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12053



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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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