Author(s): Bobetsis YA, Barros SP, Offenbacher S
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests that maternal gingivitis and periodontitis may be a risk factor for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. TYPES OF STUDIES REVIEWED: To clarify the possible mechanisms behind the association between periodontal disease and preterm delivery, the authors reviewed studies of the effect of infection with periodontal pathogens in animal models on pregnancy outcomes including fetal growth, placental structural abnormalities and neonatal health. After the first report, in 1996, of a potential association between maternal periodontal disease and delivery of a preterm/low-birth-weight infant in humans, many case control and prospective studies were published. This review summarizes these, as well as early studies involving periodontal intervention to reduce risk. RESULTS: Although there are some conflicting findings and potential problems regarding uncontrolled underlying risk factors, most of the clinical studies indicate a positive correlation between periodontal disease and preterm birth. Recent studies also have shown that there are microbiologic and immunological findings that strongly support the association. The studies indicate that periodontal infection can lead to placental-fetal exposure and, when coupled with a fetal inflammatory response, can lead to preterm delivery. Data from animal studies raise the possibility that maternal periodontal infections also may have adverse long-term effects on the infant's development. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Education for patients and health care providers regarding the biological plausibility of the association and the potential risks is indicated, but there is insufficient evidence at this time for health care policy recommendations to provide maternal periodontal treatments for the purpose of reducing the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
This article was published in J Am Dent Assoc
and referenced in Dentistry