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Women warned about gum disease

Well before she became pregnant, Yulisdey Lopez already knew that gum disease could cause a baby to be born prematurely. As part of her introduction to On-Site Dentistry, where she has long received her dental care, she said dentists and hygienists explained the importance of oral hygiene, citing studies that have associated oral bacteria not only with pre­mature babies but also heart disease.

"I've made sure I took care of myself," the 5-months-pregnant Bally's dealer said Thursday before having a cavity filled. "What they were telling me sounded serious."

If that sounded serious, what On-Site staff is beginning to share with patients is even more so: For the first time a researcher has linked pregnancy associated gum disease to the death of a fetus. The research is discussed in the February issue of "Obstetrics & Gynecology."

"Too often we don't take oral hygiene seriously enough. We think it's just about bad breath," said Chris Davenport, a dental hygienist and the chief executive officer of On-Site Dentistry . "But I think there are some studies out there that can't be ignored."

On-Site Dentistry offers services in Las Vegas both at offices as well as through mobile facilities. Yiping Han, a researcher from the Department of Periodontics at the Case Western School of Dental Medicine, said women around the country definitely aren't ignoring her recent study suggesting that a mother's gum disease can put her baby's life at risk.

"I've even received calls from women who had stillborn births who have been trying for years to understand what might have went wrong," Han said in a recent phone call from her Cleveland office. "They remember now they had serious gum disease."

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