Doman, Elizabeth, Nicole Messina, Samia Oumeddour, and Megan Stricklin
A literature review will be conducted to describe the relationship between periodontal disease and preterm birth. Possible mechanisms of the relationship will also be investigated.
Periodontal disease is one of the prominent risk factors for preterm birth (less than 37 weeks gestation). Women with periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have a preterm birth than women without periodontal disease. Preterm birth is a concern due to the increased risk for infant mortality, morbidity, and other developmental problems. There is not enough research to support a direct cause and effect relationship between periodontal disease and preterm birth. Results are inconclusive and large discrepancies among studies exist partly because there is no universally accepted standard for the diagnosis of periodontal disease. The premise behind the relationship between periodontal disease and preterm birth is that the inflammatory molecules from the oral cavity can move into the circulation and reach the fetal membranes causing further inflammation which can promote an early delivery.
The link between periodontal disease and preterm birth is relevant to dental hygiene practice because it is likely that the dental professional might be the first provider to inform a pregnant patient of the risk factors associated with periodontal disease. Dental professionals need to be informed of this link because of its associated complications and the increased rate of preterm births in the US.