The right dental treatment can increase the odds of giving birth to a healthy baby, according to a study in the August 2003 Journal of Periodontology. We’ve known for some time that gum disease in moms is connected to a higher rate of preterm births, and all of the associated health problems. We haven’t known whether treating the gum disease during pregnancy made a difference.
This pilot study looked at hundreds of pregnant women who had previously given birth to premature babies, and who were at high risk of doing so again. All of the women in the study had gum disease. Those whose gum disease was treated with scaling and root planing had an 84 percent reduction in premature births. There was no added benefit to antibiotic treatment for the gum disease, in fact those women who got the antibiotic did not do as well as those who had scaling and root planing alone.
While a larger study needs to be done to confirm these results, the study suggests that it would be wise for women who are pregnant or who are considering becoming pregnant to have their gums examined. The authors recommend that gum disease be treated either before pregnancy or during the second trimester to help give the best start to the new baby.