The bacteria that cause bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay are multitudinous, with several studies suggesting that those strains found in the mouth number in the hundreds. That said, many of these microbes can be found elsewhere in the body, too, including in the stomach, gastrointestinal tract and - according to recent research - the womb.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that 30 percent of pregnant women who had gone into labor were found to have the microorganism Porphyromonas gingivalis living in the amniotic fluid within the placenta.
P. gingivalis is a strain of bacteria commonly associated with periodontal disease, a serious oral condition in which the gums pull away from the teeth, which gradually rot and fall out.
While the study's authors, who hailed from the University of Chile, did not suggest that P. gingivalis's presence causes or contributes to premature labor, they noted that "it is still important for women to pay special attention to their oral health during pregnancy," potentially by using oral care probiotics or other specialty breath fresheners that replace unhealthy bacteria with less harmful varieties.