Does gum disease affect fertility?
Gum disease is known to affect more than just gums, as we see increasing amounts of data and research looking into how chronic inflammation can affect the body as a whole. Periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease, is a chronic, infectious and inflammatory disease of the gums and supporting tissues. The first signs that you may have gum disease and that you may spot at home, are bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the adult population have gum disease to some degree.
The inflammation caused by periodontal disease initiates a cascade of events that can lead to tissue destruction and the process of inflammation can pass into the blood circulation. As a result, it is now known that periodontal disease has been associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, respiratory and kidney disease and problems in pregnancy such as miscarriage and premature birth.
We recognise that chronic inflammation anywhere in the body can affect systemic health, as the process and even the bacteria involved can enter the blood circulation. We also recognise that the main cause of chronic inflammation in the
body is gum disease. So, how can it affect processes such as fertility and how does it affect the chances of conceiving?
The first report to suggest that gum disease might be one of several factors that could be modified to improve the chances of a pregnancy was released by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).
Researchers followed a group 3737 pregnant women, analysing pregnancy planning and pregnancy outcomes for 3416 of them. They found that women with gum disease took an average of over seven months to become pregnant -- longer than the average number of months that it took women without gum disease to conceive.
The data in the study suggested that the presence of periodontal disease was a modifiable risk factor, which can increase a woman's time to conceive. It showed that periodontal disease exerted as much of a negative influence on fertility as obesity.
If you are trying to get pregnant, or you’re thinking about improving your chances of conceiving, then visiting your dentist/hygienist may be a good step in that direction. Overall optimal health is what is best when trying for a baby and we suggest that improving oral health and stabilising gum disease may be more important in that process than you think.