We’ve discussed at length that your dental health affects your overall health, but we bet that you never once thought that it could affect a woman’s likelihood to conceive.
According to the latest dental research, fertility experts have been able to show that poor oral health can significantly affect successful conception.
At the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Professor Roger Hart announced that gum disease affects fertility and conception at the same magnitude that obesity affects fertility. From their study, women with gum disease took 7 to 12 months to conceive, whereas women without gum disease averaged around five months to conceive.
“Our data suggest that the presence of periodontal disease is a modifiable risk factor, which can increase a woman’s time to conception, particularly for non-Caucasians. It exerts a negative influence on fertility that is of the same order of magnitude as obesity,” Professor Hart explained. “All women about to plan for a family should be encouraged to see their general practitioner to ensure that they are as healthy as possible before trying to conceive and so that they can be given appropriate lifestyle advice with respect to weight loss, diet and assistance with stopping smoking and drinking, plus the commencement of folic acid supplements. Additionally, it now appears that all women should also be encouraged to see their dentist to have any gum disease treated before trying to conceive. It is easily treated, usually involving no more than four dental visits.”
Compound this study with the evidence that cravings and vomiting during pregnancy also affect dental health, and it’s easy to see that women have a bit more motivation to keep up with their dental health than men.
Of course, there are plenty of other motivators to try to prevent periodontal disease, such as the links between gum disease and heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention, there are also the risks of severe bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. If you think you may have signs of gum disease, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Don’t forget that periodontal disease is easily prevented with routine brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups!
Professor Hart is Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Western Australia (Perth, Australia) and Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia.