Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Risks

An often disagreed point in the literature is whether or not periodontal disease is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm births and low birth weight. I have discussed this some more on the risks of keeping wisdom teeth page over at I discussed how in a meta-analysis of 10 randomized trials in January 2011 found no evidence in favor of periodontal disease being associated with preterm births and low birth weight. The source for this study is Mariana Fampa Fogacci and et al. The Effect of Periodontal Therapy on Preterm Low Birth Weight: A Meta-Analysis. Obstetrics & Gynecology. vol. 117. issue 1. pages 153-165. January 2011.

In a letter in J Can Dent Assoc 2012; 78: c120 there is an articled titled “Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Risks,” which was published on on September 24, 2012 over at discussing periodontal disease and potential pregnancy risks. A reader from Tennessee writes in questioning why the authors undertook a study that was by Fahey M. titled “Periodontal health isn’t yet the answer to preterm birth”. J Can Dent Assoc. 2012;78:c31. The reader is wondering why the study looking at whether or not periodontal disease has an effect on pregnancy risks was conducted since several other prior studies by others had shown no association between periodontal health and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The author of that study says that the study was conceived in 2004 and it was evident that there were both positive and negative studies published, with slight favour to positive studies showing a relationship between preterm and low-birth-weight infants and periodontal disease. Furthermore no Canadian studies were undertaken to the knowledge of the author.

The author in the response to the letter states

“Despite your conclusion that there is no evidence to support a relationship between periodontal disease and adverse obstetrical outcomes, there remains a vast amount of literature supporting the relationship between periodontal disease and chronic medical illness (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.). This literature is so well supported, it becomes an obvious question to ask—why would there not be a relationship between periodontal disease and adverse obstetrical outcomes?”

The author argues that perhaps periodontal disease is not being measured properly in pregnancy. Of course, it is also possible that there may not be enough of a statistically significantly difference to detect such an association. More research, it appears will likely continue to be conducted to explore periodontal disease and it’s possible effect on pregnancy outcomes.

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