Yet more proof that oral hygiene is the key to health and happiness. (Seriously -- doesn't a well-cared for set of pearly whites seem to carry all sorts of who-knew benefits? Even the possibility of living longer.)
New research says that brushing away bacteria in the mouth could lower your risk for a preterm delivery.
Babies born before 37 weeks are considered preterm and about 12 percent of births in the U.S. fall into this category. The percentage of preterm births has risen significantly since the early 1980s, although researchers aren't sure why.
This new study, from doctors at Case Western Reserve and Yale Universities, claims that previously undiscovered bacteria could be responsible for up to 80 percent of early preterm labors.
The bacteria in question normally live in the mouth but a cut or cavity could allow the bacteria to enter the blood stream and travel elsewhere in the body, including the uterus. They could trigger an immune response there, thus sending the woman into premature labor.
The findings could help doctors prevent early labors by stressing the importance of oral hygiene or using certain antibiotics to combat infection.
Long story short -- don't forget to brush! And do visit your dentist while pregnant.