Clinicians found a significant proportion of young adult patients examined had well-established periodontal disease despite no signs or symptoms. Affected pregnant women faced more than twice the risk of preterm birth and other pregnancy complications as unaffected women, the research also revealed.
Data from the unique set of clinical studies, conducted at the universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kentucky were released Tuesday (Sept. 20) at a news conference during the annual meeting of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Boston.
As part of a continuing group of related investigations, the research is the first in-depth look over time at the condition in wisdom teeth -- the four rearmost teeth in the head and jaw, also known as third molars -- in young adults.
"About seven years ago, we were asked to spearhead a series of clinical trials to look at what happens if you keep your wisdom teeth and what happens if you have them taken out," said study leader Dr. Raymond P. White Jr., former dean and Dalton L. McMichael professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the UNC School of Dentistry.
"Part of the reason was that research at UNC and elsewhere showed that the inflammation in the mouth that periodontal infections cause promoted inflammation in other parts of the body, which contributed in significant ways to coronary artery disease, stroke, kidney disease and obstetric complications," White said. "Another reason was that there has been an increased emphasis on evidence-based medicine over the past decade or so."
The team collected baseline data on about 400 people who planned to keep their wisdom teeth. Res
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill