Q: Does periodontal disease put me at risk for a preterm delivery?
A: Yes. Periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection that is associated with preterm delivery. Researchers hypothesize that the infection may raise levels of prostaglandin and cytokine, both of which may contribute to an increase in uterine contractions. A study reported in the Journal of Periodontology, led by Marjorie K. Jeffcoat, D.M.D., dean of the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, found that scaling and root planing, a nonsurgical procedure, resulted in a large decrease in preterm births for pregnant patients with periodontal disease. "In light of these findings, I recommend that all women who are thinking of becoming pregnant or who are already pregnant receive a full periodontal exam and diagnosis," Jeffcoat says.
If your dentist suggests that you make an appointment with a periodontist and scaling and planing is recommended, do follow this advice, for it may decrease your risk for pregnancy complications.