Pregnant women with gum disease may undergo non-surgical periodontal treatment without fear of consequences for their baby’s health. In a large trial involving 400 infants between the ages of two and three from different pediatric clinics in the US, dental clinicians found that treating periodontitis during pregnancy did not affect the children’s cognitive, motor or language capabilities later in life.

In the study, clinicians from universities in Minnesota, Kentucky, Mississippi and New York compared development data of children born to women who were treated for gum disease before and after their delivery. However, the results between the control and experimental groups only differed slightly. Higher motor and cognitive scores were observed in the children of women who saw an improvement in their periodontal health.

Earlier studies indicated that paternal periodontal treatment may be linked to different medical problems including low birth weight, preterm birth and long-term development delays, as bacteria released during treatment may enter the mother’s bloodstream and harm the baby. According to research, pregnant women are prone to gingival bleeding, which is caused by a hormonal imbalance that encourages the growth of certain oral bacteria that cause gum disease.

If the new data is verified with additional studies, pregnant women throughout the US could have their gum conditions treated, confident in the knowledge that it will not have a clinically significant effect on their child’s development, the researchers said.