Highlighted review: Treating periodontal disease for preventing adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women

Zipporah Iheozor-Ejiofor, Philippa Middleton, Marco Esposito, Anne-Marie Glenny

Plain language summary: Treating gum disease to prevent adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women

What is the aim of this review?
The aim of this Cochrane Review was to find out if treating gum disease can prevent adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women. Cochrane researchers collected and analysed all relevant studies to answer this question and found 15 relevant studies.

Key messages
There is no evidence that the treatment of gum disease reduces the number of babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, however, it may reduce the number of babies born weighing less than 2500 g. It is uncertain whether there is a difference in adverse birth outcomes when different methods of treating gum disease are compared.

What was studied in the review?
Gum health tends to worsen during pregnancy. There has been some research associating gum disease with adverse birth outcomes. The review assessed studies where pregnant women with gum disease were treated using a combination of different mechanical techniques with or without antibiotics.

What are the main results of the review?
The review authors found 15 relevant studies. Five were from North America, four from South America, three from Europe, two from Asia and one from Austalia. Eleven studies compared either scaling and root planing or scale and polish with no treatment while the other four studies compared scaling and root planing with alternative mechanical treatments.

When pregnant women with gum disease who receive periodontal treatment are compared with those who receive no treatment:

  • there is no clear difference in the number of babies born before 37 weeks (low-quality evidence);
  • there may be fewer babies born weighing less than 2500 g (low-quality evidence).

It is unclear if one periodontal treatment is better than alternative periodontal treatments in preventing adverse birth outcomes.

How up-to-date is this review?
The review authors searched for studies that had been published up to October 2016.

Read the full review

Citation: Iheozor-Ejiofor Z, Middleton P, Esposito M, Glenny AM. Treating periodontal disease for preventing adverse birth outcomes in pregnant women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD005297. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005297.pub3.