Good oral health is understood to be an important factor in maintaining overall health. For valuable information on how gum disease may be connected to other serious illnesses, we have created the PreViser Oral Health Library. In the library you will find information and links to papers written by health care experts.
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Scientific evidence suggests that periodontitis is linked to a higher risk of babies being premature, having a low birth-weight or even being stillborn.
Premature and low-birth-weight babies have been studied to see whether the health of the expectant mother’s gums is important to the future health of the baby. Premature babies are at greater risk of health problems throughout their lives, as this Norwegian study published in the New England Journal of Medicine July 2008 shows.
Although an exact ‘cause and effect’ link between gum disease and problems in newborns has not been found, there are measurable links between the two. Several suggestions for how periodontitis and premature births might be connected have been proposed. One study published in 2007 found periodontal bacteria in the amniotic fluid of women at risk of premature birth. Another study from 2006 showed pregnant women with periodontitis to have a much higher level of a blood-protein marker for inflammation called ‘C-reactive protein’ (CRP). CRP is linked with the pregnancy complications of pre-eclampsia and premature delivery. Other studies suggest that inflammation in distant areas of the body may release chemicals that can act to trigger premature labour.
Whatever the link, it seems sensible for women of child-bearing age to be examined for gum disease by their dentist. This is especially true for expectant mothers and for women who plan to have children in the near future.