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    Can gum disease impact pregnancies?

    submitted by Dr. Michael Spadafora, D.D.S., Bucks County Dental Design

    The oral-systemic connection between gum disease and diabetes was the topic of last month’s article.

    To continue the topic of the oral-systemic link, this column will discuss the potential connection between periodontitis and premature and low birth weight babies.

    This connection does not appear to be settled science.

    The Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine states that “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 (PLBW) babies.”

    In other words, the theory is that the microorganisms that cause gum disease travel through the bloodstream and can disrupt the development of the fetus.

    This topic is of great interest to the medical community because low birth weight and pre-term delivery is still a problem in both developed and undeveloped countries and is the major cause of neonatal mortality.

    The popular website “WebMD,” however, quotes a 2009 study of 1800 pregnant women.

    This study did not show a conclusive link between the treatment of periodontal disease during pregnancy and the reduction of premature births and low birth rate babies.

    That said, the study did not address women with healthy mouths when they became pregnant versus those who had periodontal disease at the onset of pregnancy.

    So here is the bottom line – while “the jury is still out” on this issue, caution is the smart approach.

    If you are contemplating becoming pregnant, make an appointment with your dentist.

    Be pro-active in your dental health and take care of any cavities and gum issues.

    The added benefit to this approach is that you are able to have anesthesia, pain medication, and X-rays, all of which can be an issue during pregnancy. 

    Pregnancy is a wondrous, exciting, and sometimes worrisome time. You will never regret anything you  do to help ensure a happy outcome.