BACKGROUND: Preterm infants are at greater risk than term infants for physical and developmental disorders. Morbidity and mortality increases as gestational age at delivery decreases. Observational studies indicate an association between poor periodontal health and risk for preterm birth or low birthweight, making periodontitis a potentially modifiable risk factor for prematurity.
AIM: To identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between January 2011 and July 2012 and discuss all published RCTs testing whether periodontal therapy reduces rates of preterm birth and low birthweight.
METHODS: Search of databases including PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Cochrane Library.
RESULTS: The single RCT identified showed no significant effect of periodontal treatment on birth outcomes.
DISCUSSION: All published trials included non-surgical periodontal therapy; only two included systemic antimicrobials as part of test therapy. The trials varied substantially in terms of sample size, obstetric histories of subjects, study preterm birth rates and the periodontal treatment response. The largest trials - also judged to be high-quality and at low risk of bias - have yielded consistent results, and indicate that treatment does not alter rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
CONCLUSION: Non-surgical periodontal therapy, scaling and root planing, does not improve birth outcomes in pregnant women with periodontitis.