Periodontal Disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes: is there an association?

As is true of other articles on this web site intended to illuminate the oral health- systemic health connection, there will continue to be evidence that seems to contradict previous information. However, it is my intention to shed light on these studies from a practical, take-away standpoint.

Fortunately, as more and more research continues, no doubt we will uncover more valuable – and correct – information about this connection of our mouth and our body. Exciting and important times indeed!

One recent journal article evaluated a variety of adverse pregnancy events including; preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction or perinatal death in pregnant women with and without periodontal disease.

The summary of the research was as follows:

  • 311 pregnant women with periodontal disease and 475 pregnant women without periodontal  disease, between 6 and 20 weeks’ gestation enrolled in the study.
  • Periodontal disease was defined as gum tissue loss > or = to 3mm on 3 or more teeth. (This is significant disease.)

Results and conclusions of this study:

There was no association between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy events in this study. Although that may sound contradictory to other articles you may have discovered elsewhere, there is – of course – more to the story!

At this point in time, the potential association between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy events is not settled either way! Many well-designed studies demonstrated an association and others including this study did not.

As dental practitioners, among our responsibilities, is keeping up with research. Despite the fact that the periodontal disease/pregnancy question is still under investigation and a consensus does not presently exist in the medical and dental professions, treating every patient with any level of periodontal disease is one of our primary responsibilities.

Above all, improving oral health and reducing the total inflammatory burden in the body is a worthwhile endpoint – regardless.