Bringing a child into this world is one of the most sacred things a couple can do together. That’s why you have been taking the necessary steps along the path to becoming pregnant. Your doctor says you’re in a great position and it’s a good time for having kids. Now, the only thing that is keeping you from your bundle of joy is the process of dealing with your fertility cycle.
Someone mentioned that pregnancy can be linked to oral hygiene, and you’re reeling from all the information online. It can be nearly impossible to separate the truth from the myths when you get there, and you’re not sure what to believe.
There is some truth to that assessment. Your dental health plays a massive role in your fertility, especially if you have gum disease. In my 20 plus years of dentistry experience, I have helped a lot of couples improve their dental health so they can be as healthy as possible while trying to conceive their child.
Fertility and periodontal disease, gum disease, or gingivitis are linked more than you might realize. These are bacterial infections that can cause swollen gums and bleeding while brushing your teeth. This gingivitis is usually a result of poor oral hygiene, but factors like medicine and hormone changers also play a role.
Left untreated, this gum disease and periodontal disease will lead to tooth and jawbone deterioration. This can also negatively affect your likelihood of pregnancy. This is why it is imperative that you visit your dentist regularly.
How Gum Disease Affects Fertility
It seems impossible that gum disease can be linked to fertility, but the National Institutes of Health did a study that showed how periodontitis (gum disease) added up to 2 months to the time it took women to conceive. Before men place all the blame on the women, they should know that studies also show oral hygiene has an impact on their semen counts as well as playing a role in male factor infertility.
Gum Disease and Female Infertility
Women with healthy oral hygiene routines take 2 months less to conceive on average compared to women with gum disease. Numerous studies have been conducted linking gum disease with fertility across multiple ethnicities.
Studies have also shown that this may be an effect rather than a cause in some cases. For instance, women who have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome are at a greater risk for gum disease, sometimes an increase of 57% more likelihood of having these problems. These primary diseases have also been linked to infertility, so the gum disease may not have additional impact.
Pregnant women should still maintain great oral hygiene. Failing to do so can often cause low birth weight, diabetes, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. Healthy teeth and mouths lead to healthy babies and an increased chance for fertility and conception.
Gum Disease and Male Infertility
Men often end up with tooth decay and gum disease, which are linked to low sperm counts and unhealthy semen. These men are also at a significantly increased risk of ending up with male factor infertility.
Gum disease can lower your sperm rapidly, and also causes your sperm to swim much more slowly. They can’t survive long enough to reach the egg and inseminate. In fact, gum disease can cause bacterial infections in your semen and change everything, right down to their shape!
On the positive side, men who maintain adequate oral hygiene have also been shown to have much healthier semen than the average man, so you may end up increasing the strength of your swimmers and giving yourself a leg up when it comes to insemination!
How to Prevent Gum Disease
A lot of the problems with fertility that are caused by oral hygiene can be prevented by paying attention to your teeth. Although you can’t control genetic risk factors for periodontal disease, you can control how well you brush and floss and how regularly you visit the dentist.
Regular teeth and periodontal cleaning will reduce your risk factors for gum and periodontal diseases. You also need to quickly fix any cavities you may end up with, because the tooth decay can lead to periodontal disease.
Fixing your cavities can also help with fertility. Tooth decay can lead to periodontal disease and problems with your oral hygiene and your dentist can fix them. Make sure you brush and floss daily.
In the end, preventing gum disease through healthy countermeasures is the best way to make sure your mouth can’t have a negative impact on your conception attempts. Brush twice a day (at least), floss daily, and rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash to maintain healthy gums and teeth.