Research has proven a connection with periodontal disease (gum disease) and low weight – preterm births in pregnant women. The studies have shown an average of a 20% reduction in birth-weight when periodontal disease was induced in pregnant rats (Collins JG, Smith MA, Arnold RR, Offenbacher S. Effects of Escherichia coli and Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide on pregnancy outcome in the golden hamster. Infect Immun 1994;62(10):4652–5).
They also found an increase in inflammatory mediators in the amniotic fluid. Pregnant women with periodontal disease are up to 7.5 times more likely to have a pregnancy complication (Oral health surveys: Basic methods. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1987). Fetuses with a more robust IgM response to periodontal pathogens are among those that also demonstrate a greater inflammatory response, as indicated by the increase in cord serum levels of C-reactive protein, IL-1ß, IL-6, TNF- alfa, PGE2 and 8-isoprostane (Boggess KA, Moss K, Madianos P, Murtha AP, Beck J, Offen-bacher S. Fetal immune response to oral pathogens and risk of preterm birth. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2005;193(3 part 2):1121–6.) This increase in an inflammatory response in the cord and placenta can cause a host of problems that include reducing blood flow to the fetus, bacterial challenge and placental infection, uterine contraction, etc. All of which are obviously not good for the baby or the mother.
The take home message from all of this is simple, a mother to be should try to be free from all infections. That includes gum and tooth infections. So if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you should have regular dental appointments to make sure that you are in good oral health. Do it for yourself and your baby.