Pregnancy is a big step in every couple’s life, and one that is not taken lightly. Many couples prepare for months before attempting to conceive, and do what they can to make their chances greater at doing so. However, one thing that is often overlooked is the role of dental health in fertility.
In reality, certain oral issues including gum disease can actually lessen your and your partner’s ability to conceive. As a dentist with over 20 years of experience, I’ve worked with countless couples to keep their dental health on track, and help prevent these types of issues from disrupting their plans. Here’s how gum disease can affect your ability to have children, and ways you can prevent it and keep a healthy mouth.
What Is Gum Disease
Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums that causes inflammation; it is often called gingivitis. Early symptoms are usually red and swollen gums, and bleeding while brushing or flossing. If left untreated, it can cause receding gum lines and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, but other factors like hormones, habits, illness, and genetics can play a role as well.
When left untreated, gum disease can progress to a much more serious infection called periodontitis. Not all cases of gum disease will progress to this stage, but leaving it untreated greatly increases the chances that it will do so.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Fertility?
Gum disease, and other oral health issues have a direct effect on you and your partner’s ability to conceive. First off, studies have shown that people with gum disease take longer to conceive than those without. Couples where a partner suffers from gum disease have been shown to take up to an extra 2 months in order to conceive. The average time for conception for healthy couples is 5 months, while those with gum disease took over 7.
In men, gum disease has also been shown to cause lower sperm count. This can cause conceiving to be more difficult and further increase the time it takes. Add this onto the already increased timeline gum disease causes, and you could be looking at significantly more time before conceiving.
There are also post conception issues to deal with. Gum disease has been linked to premature births and other issues during pregnancy. That’s why it’s so important for those looking to conceive to take care of their health first.
How to Prevent Gum Disease?
Keeping up with your dental health routine is the best way to prevent the adverse effects of gum disease from affecting your fertility. The best routine involves brushing twice per day, and then flossing and using a mouthwash once per day. Combined, these three things provide the best protection for your mouth, and are the most effective way to prevent gum disease.
It’s also important to continue visiting your dentist when trying to conceive. They can help determine if you have any existing issues, as well as provide you with a deep cleaning of your mouth and gums. This is important because even with proper care you might be susceptible to gum disease. Certain factors such as genetics can make you more likely to develop the disease, even if you keep up with a good routine. Visiting a dentist regularly can help catch these issues early and help provide proper treatment.
Smoking is also another big cause of gum disease, among other oral issues, that is also directly responsible for infertility. Smokers are at a greater risk for developing gum disease, so it’s recommended that couples quit smoking even before trying to conceive. Smoking has also been linked to infertility on it’s own, which is even more reason to quit before trying. That’s also not taking into account the wide range of health issues that can affect an unborn child if the mother smokes during pregnancy.
Oral Health and Infertility
It’s often overlooked, but oral health plays a big role in a couple’s ability to conceive. Issues like gum disease have been directly shown to affect the fertility of a couple, and make the time it takes to conceive significantly longer. Taking care of your mouth goes a long way in helping with fertility and getting you and your partner one step closer to conceiving.