Dental Procedure Can Affect Premature Birth

Scaling and root planing dramatically reduced preterm births for those with periodontal disease

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TUESDAY, Aug. 26, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The number of premature births in pregnant women with periodontal disease may be reduced by using a non-surgical dental procedure.

So claims a study in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth.

The study of 366 women with periodontitis found that scaling and root planing resulted in as much as an 84 percent reduction in premature births among women who were less than 35 weeks pregnant.

Scaling and root planing is a common procedure performed by a periodontist. In this procedure, the tooth-root surfaces are cleaned to remove plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the root to remove bacterial toxins.

The study also found that adjunctive metronidazole therapy - an antibiotic used to treat infections - did not reduce the rate of premature births. The study actually found that women who received the antibiotic treatment after scaling and root planing had more premature births than those who received scaling and planing and a placebo.

"What this tells us is that scaling and root planing may significantly reduce a mother's chances of having a preterm birth," study author Marjorie Jeffcoat, University of Alabama at Birmingham school of dentistry, says in a news release.

"We found no evidence that the addition of an antibiotic to scaling and root planing was of benefit in this study. However, more research needs to be conducted to determine the reason for the decrease in efficacy," Jeffcoat says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about periodontal diseases.

SOURCE: American Academy of Periodontology, news release, Aug. 26, 2003


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