The link between dental health and fertility was reported at a European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology event in Sweden. A recent study that was presented at the meeting indicates that good oral hygiene can increase your chances of pregnancy.
The study group was comprised of more than 3,000 pregnant women with varying levels of dental health and hygiene. The researchers observed the effects of poor dental hygiene and progression of gum disease in study participants:
- Chronic swelling and redness of the gums called periodontal disease.
- Bacteria, combined with mucus and food particles, adheres to teeth and forms plaque.
- Unattended plaque hardens and becomes tartar. A professional dental cleaning will eliminate tartar.
- Left untreated on the teeth, tartar causes further inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include swollen and bleeding gums. Stepping up your oral hygiene with scrupulous brushing, flossing and regular professional dental cleaning can help eradicate gum disease.
- If gingivitis is left unattended, it develops into periodontitis or inflammation around the tooth. Periodontitis affects the tissue and bone around the teeth. The gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that easily become infected with debris and loosen the teeth.
- Stray bacteria can enter the blood from the gums and cause many health issues: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, infertility, miscarriage and more.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Roger Hart from the University of Western Australia in Perth, "The effect of gum disease on conception is at about the same order of magnitude as the effect of obesity."
Caucasian women diagnosed with gum disease took two months longer to get pregnant than those with no gum disease. Their average length of time until conception was seven months, instead of five months. Non-Caucasian women with gum disease faced more problems with fertility. It took them more than one year to conceive.
According to Roger Hart's study, treating existing gum disease if you are already pregnant will not affect fetal or maternal health. Rather, it is important to take care of your teeth and improve your dental health before getting pregnant. It is recommended that you floss and brush your teeth daily, and visit the dentist for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.