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News / March 10, 2010

Gum disease treatment reduces early births

by Guy Hiscott

A new study has revealed the strongest suggestion yet that successful treatment of periodontal disease reduces the number of premature babies. 

The findings, which were publicised at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Washington last week, followed over 1,000 pregnant women at between six and 20 weeks’ gestation.

The study monitored 160 participants diagnosed with periodontal disease and compared them to 872 pregnant women who had good levels of oral health.

The results showed that subjects who were successfully treated for their periodontal disease had a significantly lower incidence of preterm birth at less than 35 weeks’ gestation.

Women with periodontal disease were over three times more likely to give birth prematurely than women with good oral health, and had a one in four chance of giving birth before 35 weeks.

Those who had gum disease were treated with scaling and root planing, with periodontal examinations before and after the procedures. 

The research, entitled Risk of preterm birth is reduced with successful periodontal treatment was presented by the lead author, M Jeffcott, of the University of Pennsylvania, on 5 March during the 39th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research.