Women who are planning to get pregnant should include a visit to the oral surgeon on their checklist of health care appointments. It’s essential for these women to have their wisdom teeth extracted if they haven’t already done so because leaving the wisdom teeth in place may increase the likelihood of a pre- term birth or a low fetal birth weight. In fact, several studies of pregnant women found a significant association between periodontal disease and pre-term births and low birth weights.
The wisdom teeth are far removed from the reproductive organs, so many women wonder how could they possibly affect a pregnancy. The answer to that question is through bacteria. Because erupted wisdom teeth are so hard to reach, they tend to attract bacteria, which promote infection and inflammation. Impacted wisdom teeth also harbor low-grade chronic bacterial infections that can be disseminated systemically. This is one of the major reasons that the oral surgeon extracts wisdom teeth. Furthermore, the hormones found in women’s bodies may exacerbate this inflammation, as well.
Those bacteria can travel from the mouth to the uterus, where they prompt the release of prostaglandins, which can lead to premature contractions.
When the tissues surrounding the wisdom teeth become inflamed, they release a cascade of various molecules as a response to the insult, including cytokines. These molecules then circulate throughout the woman’s bloodstream, eventually reaching the uterus. In the uterus, the cytokines also may promote the release of prostaglandins as well as other molecules that weaken fetal membranes, increasing the risk that they’ll rupture.
Pre-term births may not be the only pregnancy complication associated with wisdom teeth. Some evidence suggests a correlation between gum disease, which can be a result of infection at the site of wisdom teeth, and preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, as well.
Even wisdom teeth that appear to be problem-free can cause issues during pregnancy. If you are a woman who still has her wisdom teeth in the Chicago area, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.