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New Oral Health Center to Study Link Between Oral Diseases and Preterm Babies

February 12, 2009

Drexel University College of Medicine has announced the dedication of the AmeriChoice Oral Health Center at 1435 Vine Street in Philadelphia. The center will provide dental care to women while studying the relationship between periodontal disease and preterm low birth weight babies. 

The center is a partnership between AmeriChoice, which has donated the equipment, and Drexel University College of Medicine, which will enroll patients in a treatment study.

“Establishing an inner city oral health center in conjunction with Drexel University College of Medicine and AmeriChoice is a partnership based on the excellence of integrating medical and dental care to the underserved high risk community of Philadelphia,” said AmeriChoice Chief Dental Officer Allen Finkelstein, DDS. “Our mutual goal is to provide dental care to identified high-risk women who have had preterm low-birth weight babies and children who are vulnerable to periodontal "gum" disease and tooth decay.”

The center will be under the direction of D. Water Cohen, DDS, chancellor emeritus at Drexel University College of Medicine.

“We are grateful to AmeriChoice for equipping this Oral Health Center,” said Cohen. “Their generous gift will allow us to conduct a very important clinical study.”

The principal investigator of the study will be Jennifer Culhane, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Drexel. Culhane says this study will be different from previous research in this area which has evaluated women who are receiving periodontal treatment during pregnancy.

“What makes our study unique is that we plan to provide periodontal treatment between pregnancies in women who have already delivered a preterm baby,” said Culhane. “We want to see if treatment after delivery can help prevent preterm babies in subsequent pregnancies.”

Drexel University College of Medicine is expected to begin enrolling women for the study in the coming months.