a blog by Robyn Nazar, RN, BSN, July 20, 2011
To read more of Robyn Nazar's The Fertile World: A Nurse's Perspective blogs, CLICK HERE.
Although it may be hard to imagine how your dental care could possibly relate to getting pregnant, experts say it's true.
Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease or gingivitis, is caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. The plaque traps bacteria and other microbes that lead to infections in your gums and around the roots of your teeth.
Without treatment, gum disease can lead to high levels of inflammation in your body, raising your risk for many reproductive issues including impaired sperm production in men and miscarriage, premature birth and decreased fertility in women.
According to a study released from the annual meeting for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, researchers found that it takes, on average, two months longer for women with gum disease to become pregnant. They are also more likely to take more than a year to become pregnant — a key diagnosis in infertility.
You May Have Gum Disease and Not Know It
Many men and women are unaware that they have gum disease at all. Sometimes the disease can persist inside your mouth with very few symptoms. This is why it is important to schedule regular visits with your dentist so he or she can get a good look inside your mouth for plaque buildup and other signs of developing gum disease.
Fertility Tips for Your Mouth
Regular brushing every day is not enough to protect you from developing fertility-harming gum disease. Misaligned teeth, old fillings, crowns and permanent retainers are all places where bacteria can become trapped, and gum disease may occur. Furthermore, women undergoing infertility treatment or who are already pregnant are particularly susceptible to gum disease due to shifts in hormone levels and a decreased immune system.
In order to protect your fertility AND your mouth be sure to:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal and before sleeping.
- Floss once daily and after eating foods such as popcorn or hard candy.
- Use an anti-plaque toothpaste recommended by your dentist.
- Schedule a visit to your dentist for a professional cleaning and evaluation once every six months.