Periodontal Disease Can Lead To Preterm Labor
"This finding may pave the way for screening and treating periodontal disease as a preventive method to reduce the occurrence of preeclampsia," said Vincent J Iacono, DMD and AAP president.
"The chronic inflammation of periodontal infection, together with evidence linking periodontitis with atherosclerosis indicates a possible association between periodontal disease and preeclampsia," said Dr. Orit Oettinger-Barak, Periodontal Unit, Maxillofacial Surgery Center at the Technion Faculty of Medicine in Haifa, Israel. Atherosclerosis is a multistage process set in motion when cells lining the arteries are damaged as a result of high blood pressure, smoking, toxic substances and other agents. "We found that periodontal disease was more severe in the preeclamptic patients, which suggests an interaction between periodontal disease and pregnancy."
Researchers performed periodontal examinations in pregnant women with and without preeclampsia.. The periodontal examination was performed up to 48 hours prior to delivery by collecting gingival crevicular fluid, which is a fluid that contains enzymes and pieces of tissue that have been examined as potential markers for the progression of periodontitis. This was followed with a full-mouth periodontal examination. Researchers found that the protein levels, known as cytokines in the preeclamptic group were nearly three times greater than the healthy group.
"Circulating proteins known as cytokines have previously been associated with the cause of preeclampsia," said Iacono. "Nevertheless, this is the first time that cytokines related to periodontal disease have been implicated. Additional studies will be required to support the findings, including a treatment study designed to eliminate periodontal disease as a preventive measure to reduce the incidence of preeclampsia."
Most periodontal diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions caused by the body's response to bacterial gum infections that can destroy the gum tissue and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth. The main cause of this disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth. Prevention includes daily flossing to break up the bacterial colonies between the teeth, proper daily brushing to prevent plaque buildup and professional cleanings at least twice a year to remove calculus from places the toothbrush and floss may have missed. Since there are often no symptoms of the disease in its early stages, a periodontal evaluation by your dentist or periodontist is the best way to know if you have any periodontal disease.
A referral to a periodontist in your area and free brochure samples including one titled Women and Periodontal Disease are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP's Web site at www.perio.org.