Current science suggests that oral bacteria can travel away from the mouth, invade other organs and set up infections in these other organs. This mechanism has been highlighted by Yiping Han, PhD, a professor of pathology and reproductive biology at Case Western University. She has spent her career researching how certain oral bacteria can cause infections in organs and systems outside the mouth. Specifically, she has identified one oral pathogenic bacteria (F. nucleatum or Fn) that can cross the placental barrier in pregnant women resulting in pregnancy complications like miscarriage and stillbirth. Dr. Han documented a case of a healthy 35 year old pregnant woman who had a stillbirth child at 39 weeks 5 days gestation. Fn infection was found in the placenta and the baby. The Fn matched exactly to the Fn in the mother’s subgingival plaque, and did not match to any bacteria in the mother’s vagina or rectum. After studying the case, Dr. Han explained that the term stillbirth was caused by oral Fn (32).
Fn has a special ability to travel across “closed” tissues and tissue membranes in the body (34). This gives Fn (and another oral bacteria, Bergyella) the ability to migrate from the mouth to other tissues and organs, invade these tissues and organs, and grow into an infection there away from the mouth (20). When oral bacteria invade the placental barrier and set up infection in utero, the result is adverse pregnancy outcomes. (14, 19).
All of this research points to the unhealthy mouth as a major risk and possible killer for pregnancy and fertility. At Intown Smile Studio, when our patients are pregnant or family planning, our team starts educating. We teach our patients about the science we have studied, and we encourage our patients to do simple saliva tests to check for these specific oral bacterial pathogens. Our hope is to play an important role in the wellness of our patients and their families…and their growing families.
These other conditions can be affected by your oral health. Learn more by clicking the links below: