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A periodontal examination should be part of a woman's prenatal care, according to the results of a study that were published recently in the Journal of Periodontology. The study included 870 pregnant women at low risk for preterm birth and low birth weight. At the study's onset, all of the women received a full-mouth periodontal examination. The women were then separated into a control group and a treatment group.
The treatment group received periodontal therapy before 28 weeks of gestation and then maintenance therapy every 2 to 3 weeks until delivery. Each participant was provided with toothbrushes and chlorhexidine and was told to rinse once a day with 0.12% chlorhexidine until delivery. The control group was checked 2 to 3 times during pregnancy and was given repeated periodontal examinations after 30 weeks of gestation to evaluate changes in periodontal status. The results of the study indicated that women with gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease) who received dental therapy before 28 weeks of gestation had a considerably lower occurrence of preterm low-birth-weight infants, compared with women who did not receive therapy.