Background: There is convincing evidence to suggest that infections affecting the mother during pregnancy may produce alterations in the normal cytokine- and hormone-regulated gestation, which could result in preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, and preterm birth (PTB). Studies in the late 1990s associated periodontitis with preterm low birth weight (PLBW) deliveries, and this may have similar pathogenic mechanisms as other maternal infections. This study determined the effect of non-surgical periodontal therapy on pregnancy outcome.
Methods: A total of 200 pregnant women with periodontitis were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Detailed data about previous and current pregnancies were obtained. All women received a full-mouth periodontal examination, including oral hygiene index-simplified, bleeding index, and clinical attachment level. The women in the treatment group received non-surgical periodontal therapy during the gestational period, and those in the control group received periodontal treatment after delivery. Periodontal therapy included plaque control instructions and scaling and root planing performed under local anesthesia. The outcome measures assessed were gestational age and birth weight of the infant. PTB was recorded when delivery occurred at <37 weeks of gestation, and low birth weight (LBW) was recorded when the infant weighed<2,500 g.
Results: There were 53 PTBs in the treatment group and 68 PTBs in the control group. Twenty-six LBW infants were recorded in the treatment group, and 48 LBW infants were noted in the control group. The mean gestational ages were 33.8+/-2.8 weeks and 32.7+/-2.8 weeks in the treatment and control groups, respectively. The difference was statistically significant at P<0.006. The mean birth weight was 2,565.3+/-331.2 g in the treatment group and 2,459.6+/-380.7 g in the control group, with the difference being statistically significant at P<0.044. A multiple regression model showed a significant effect of periodontal treatment on birth outcomes.
Conclusions: Non-surgical periodontal therapy can reduce the risk for preterm births in mothers who are affected by periodontitis. Additional multicentered, randomized, controlled clinical trials are required to confirm this link between periodontitis and PLBW.