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Dental procedure may reduce risk of premature birth

CHICAGO (August 26, 2003) A non-surgical dental procedure may reduce the risk of preterm birth in pregnant women with periodontal disease, according to new study findings. Nearly 12 percent of babies in this country are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy), which increases their risk of death and lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung and gastrointestinal problems, and vision and hearing loss.

The report was published in the Journal of Periodontology and is based on 366 pregnant women who had periodontitis (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) and found as much as an 84 percent reduction of premature births in women who were less than 35 weeks pregnant and who received scaling and root planing. Researchers also found that adjunctive metronidazole therapy (an antibiotic used to treat infections) did not improve pregnancy outcome. In fact, women who were given the antibiotic after scaling and root planing had more preterm births than patients receiving scaling and root planing and a placebo.

"What this tells us is that scaling and root planing may significantly reduce a mother's chance of having a preterm birth," said Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D, study author and former Rosen professor and chair at the University of Alabama at Birmingham school of dentistry. "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."

Scaling and root planing is a common periodontal procedure that is performed by a periodontist, a dental practitioner who specializes in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting tissues and placement of dental implants. The tooth-root surfaces are cleaned to remove plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the root to remove b
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Contact: Amy Duff
amyd@perio.org
312-573-3244
American Academy of Periodontology
26-Aug-2003


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