Premature labor: Can periodontal disease cause preterm birth?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums and bone, caused by plaque,a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to teeth. Plaque forms constantly on teeth and can build up if it is not removed through daily and regular professional cleaning. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins, that can irritate your gums. Three out of four adults are affected by periodontal disease some time in their lives. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to periodontal disease. It is not completely understood how periodontal disease affects pregnancy. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause inflammation in the gums can actually get into the bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low birth weight babies. Pregnant women who have moderate to severe periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to deliver a premature child, according to a five-year study conducted at the University of North Carolina, than women with healthy gums. Researchers evaluated