Does Treating Gum Disease Reduce the Incidence of Preterm Birth?

February 4, 2009

Previous research has suggested a link between periodontal disease and premature birth.  Consequently, pregnant woman have been encouraged to undergo periodontal treatment to reduce these risks.

However, recent studies conducted at the Univeristy of North Carolina’s School of Dentistry revealed no significant differences in pregnancy outcomes when study participants received treatment, as compared to those participants who did not.

As a result of these findings, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) released a statement calling for additional research to “clarify the potential impact that periodontal disease has on the risk of preterm births“.  The AAP also continues to encourage pregnant women to care for their oral health.

You  may also wish to read what the ADA has to say about this topic.

For information on current studies visit or browse this list of recent articles as indexed in PubMed.


Preterm Birth and Oral Health

November 17, 2008

The March of Dimes is celebrating Prematurity Awareness throughout the month of November. The goal of this event is to draw attention to premature birth, which affects more than 530,000 babies each year in the United States.

In the first of what will be an annual Premature Birth Report Card, the nation received a D and not a single state earned an A when the March of Dimes compared actual preterm birth rates to the national Healthy People 2010 objective.

Recent studies have linked maternal periodontal disease to preterm birth.  Furthermore, studies have indicated that the treatment of periodontitis in pregnant mothers can reduce the risk of preterm birth.

For additional information on premature birth and oral health, see this list of internet resources.

Oral Health: The Public Speaks

October 20, 2008

The American Dental Association, in collaboration with Crest and Oral-,B conducted a national public opinion survey on oral health care.  The survey represented  1,000 Americans ages 18 and older, living in the continental United States. The survey focused on the following areas:

  • The public’s perceptions of their oral health care, with a special focus on African Americans, Hispanics and lower-income Americans
  • Americans’ knowledge of effective and essential oral health care habits
  • Oral health habits among the nation’s youth
  • The psychological benefits of a healthy smile

Key findings include:

  • Eight out of  ten Americans say taking care of one’s mouth, teeth and gums is “absolutely needed; however, only one-third of them say they do an “excellent” job taking care of them
  • One out of four parents describe their children’s job of taking care of their oral health as fair” or “poor”

More than one in three Americans say:

  • They think a little bleeding from brushing is normal (33%)
  • They are unaware that periodontal disease needs to be treated and cannot be left alone (33%)
  • They don’t know that poor oral health has been associated with serious health conditions such as stroke, heart disease  and diabetes (37%)

The full report and related documents are available on the ADA site.

Links to resources for educating your patients on oral health conditions, treatment and prevention may be found here.

Oral Health Care for Mom and Baby

September 26, 2008

The National Maternal and Oral Health Resource Center has published three new documents related to pregnancy and oral health, and oral health for babies.

The first, Access to Oral Health Care During the Perinatal Period, is a policy brief that provides an overview of barriers to addressing women’s oral health needs during the perinatal period. Evidence from the professional, peer-reviewed literature is cited throughout the document.

The second document  is a summary of practice guidelines for oral health care during pregnancy.  Geared toward prenatal and oral health professionals, the guidelines are intended to bring about changes in the health care delivery system and to improve the overall standard of care for pregnant women.

Lastly, Two Healthy Smiles: Tips to Keep You and Your Baby Healthy  is a brochure designed to educate women about the importance of oral hygiene and oral health care during pregnancy. Topics include brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods, and getting dental checkups and treatment. Additional topics include the impact of hormonal changes during pregnancy on gum health, caring for an infant’s gums and teeth, and finding a dentist.

View the latest publications on pregnancy and oral health, as indexed in PubMed here. 




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