Researchers found that pregnant women with periodontitis had 65 percent higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels compared to periodontally healthy women.
The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP).
CRP levels are a marker of systemic inflammation and are associated with periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection found in the gums of the mouth. CRP has also been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preeclampsia and preterm delivery.
"Elevated CRP may indeed be caused by periodontal infection and inflammation." said Dr. Waranuch Pitiphat, Department of Community Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Khon Kaen University, Thailand. "If this is the case, CRP could amplify the inflammatory response and ultimately cause adverse pregnancy outcomes. Alternatively, periodontal disease and CRP may share a common risk factor for predisposing individuals to a hyperinflammatory response. More research is clearly needed to further our understanding about the association between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes."
Past studies examining the relationship between periodontal disease and CRP found that often after standard non-surgical periodontal therapy, CRP levels decrease.
"This is one more study that really drives home the importance of taking care of the entire body including oral health," explains Kenneth A. Krebs, DMD and AAP president. "In addition to this study about the relationship between CRP and pregnant women with periodontal disease, previous studies reported that inflammatory effects from periodontal disease could cause the liver to make proteins such as CRP that inflame arteries causing blood clots that contribute to heart attacks or strokes."
Evidence supporting the association between periodontitis and CRP is based only on studies in men and non-pregnant women. This is the first study that looked at the association between CRP and periodontitis in pregnant women. The results of this study are consistent with previous studies conducted among men and non-pregnant women. CRP was higher in people with periodontal disease compared to those without disease.