Medscape reports on women and oral health. In a recent article, it was stated that studies have shown a possible link between oral inflammation and pregnancy complications and preterm, low-birth weight babies. Various biological immune markers present in the blood as a result of periodontal infection may serve as a risk factor for premature labor.
Several risk factors are documented relating to the high incidence of preterm delivery (<37 weeks) of low-birthweight (<2,500-g) babies. Prostaglandins are produced and released during inflammation. Specifically, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is involved in bone resorption and in stimulating the uterus to contract during pregnancy. Both inflammation and progesterone significantly increase the formation of prostaglandins in the gingival tissue of pregnant women. Thus, it has been postulated that women with periodontal disease who give birth to preterm, low-birthweight babies versus normal-birthweight babies have significantly increased PGE2 levels. These prostaglandins found in the serum originate in the fluid of the underlying gingival tissues and flow out into the pocket between the tooth and the gingiva. Additionally, four bacteria types (Porphyromonas gingivalis, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Bacteroides forsythus, and Treponema denticola) were detected at higher levels in mothers of preterm, low-birthweight babies than in mothers who delivered normal birth-weight babies. Given these data, pharmacists and other health care professionals should stress to their patients the role of oral health in preventing pregnancy complications.