Gum Disease and Preterm Birth

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Gum Disease and Preterm Birth

Category : editorial

Gum Disease and Preterm Birth


But it is still not clear if more aggressive treatment of periodontal disease affects risk or if treating tooth and gum issues before a woman becomes pregnant can help prevent premature delivery, Steven Offenbacher, DDS, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Center for Oral and Systemic Diseases, tells WebMD.

Offenbacher was the lead investigator of the newly reported study, which was conducted at UNC, Duke University Medical Center, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

All of the pregnant women recruited for the study had periodontal disease. Half were treated with deep cleaning and plaque removal before reaching their 23rd week of pregnancy and the other half received no treatment while pregnant.

The two groups were followed through delivery. After controlling for well-known risk factors for early delivery, such as smoking and history of giving birth prematurely, the researchers found no significant difference in birth outcomes among the two groups.

About a quarter of women with periodontal problems experience a worsening of tooth and gum issues during pregnancy, but the reasons for this are not clear, Offenbacher says.

“This study shows that this level of periodontal treatment does not affect birth outcomes, but we don’t know if more intensive treatment can make a difference,” he tells WebMD.

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