If you’re anything like me, you dread going to the dentist. Even the most diligent of brushers and flossers are oftentimes told they’re still not flossing enough. And as much or as little motivation a dentist’s recommendation effects our daily habits, a recent study may provide extra incentive for women looking to conceive to take extra special care of their pearly whites.
Professor Roger Hart and his team from the University of Western Australia were the first to state that from the time that a woman starts trying to conceive, poor oral health can have a significant effect on the time to become pregnant.
Hart presented the findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference, and went so far as to say “that the negative effect of gum disease on conception was of the same order of magnitude as the effect of obesity.”
Hart estimated that roughly 10 percent of the population is believed to have severe periodontal disease – a chronic, infectious and inflammatory disease of the gums and supporting tissues.
The researchers analyzed information on pregnancy planning and pregnancy outcomes for 3,416 women, who were taking part in a Western Australian study called the SMILE study.
The team of researchers found that “women with gum disease took an average of just over seven months to become pregnant – two months longer than the average of five months that it took women without gum disease to conceive.”
Women who took the longest to conceive were more likely to be older, non-Caucasian, to smoke and to have a body mass index over 25 kg/m2. Out of the 3,416 women, 1,014 (26 percent) had periodontal disease.
"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,” said Hart.
PubMed Health stated that a risk factor for increasing one’s chances of developing gum disease is pregnancy – as hormonal changes increase the sensitivity of the gums.
So while women hoping to become pregnant need to take careful care of their gums and mouth, it’s also important to have a clean and healthy mouth throughout pregnancy as well.
Gum disease can be treated by routine brushing and flossing and scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist for professional teeth cleaning.
So, while we may dread going to the dentist, there’s yet another reason it may be a good idea to brush and floss those pearly whites as often as you can.
Gum Disease Can Increase the Time it Takes to Become Pregnant
Reviewed July 6, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton
Bailey Mosier is a freelance journalist living in Orlando, Florida. She received a Masters of Journalism from Arizona State University, played D-I golf, has been editor of a Scottsdale-based golf magazine and currently contributes to GolfChannel.com. She aims to live an active, healthy lifestyle full of sunshine and smiles.