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oral hygiene
Conception Oct 30, 2020
3 Minutes

Your dentist for fertility?! Oral hygiene matters more than you may think….

When we think of fertility, most of us do not think of seeing a dentist! However, evidence suggests that focusing on oral hygiene could potentially shorten time to conceive by as much as two months (2). We look at how, why and what you need to know: 

Is there a link between oral and reproductive health?! 

For the last few decades there has been growing recognition that there is a connection between our oral hygiene and many chronic conditions in the body ranging from heart health, to kidney disease and even sperm count (1). As a result a number of studies have looked at the question:

Can poor oral health make it harder to conceive?

The answer it seems is that there is some form of connection. 

But how would oral hygiene and health impact fertility?  

As always with medical research there are some unanswered questions. However, there is evidence to suggest a link between poor oral health (specifically conditions of the gums like Periodontitis and its milder form Gingivitis) and conditions like low sperm count, PCOS, endometriosis and even preterm birth. (1-3). 

In fact, it appears that the odds of having gingivitis and/or periodontitis is nearly 60% higher if a woman also suffers from Endometriosis. 

What is Periodontitis when it comes to oral hygiene? 

This is a relatively common form of gum disease which causes inflammation of the gums and supporting tissue. Gingivitis is the milder form and is said to impact as many as 50% of US adults! (3) It is also often linked to factors like smoking, diabetes etc. 

One piece of research suggested that ‘a woman with periodontal disease, on average takes an extra two months to conceive, which is a negative influence on conception of the same order of magnitude as obesity’. (2) 

Once again it comes back to a common culprit: chronic inflammation: 

Whilst scientists can’t seem to agree on cause vs effect. However, the common denominator as to why it causes trouble seems to be chronic inflammation. ie. the body’s immune system being turned ‘on’ too high damaging other tissues in the body. This is also often common to conditions like PCOS and Endometriosis. 

When it comes to fertility: specifically damaging sperm counts and potentially the endometrium. (1-3). 

We have written extensively about how a misfiring immune system ie. chronic inflammation impacts everything from fertility to pregnancy to postnatal depression to development of a little person. Plus how our modern lifestyles contribute to it.

Click here for the top ten ways to combat it

This applies to both men and women: 

There is evidence linking Periodontitis with low sperm count in men (1-3). So this is not just an issue for female fertility. 

The good news: ‘treatment of periodontal disease has been shown to lead to improvement in semen parameters.’ (2). 

So what’s the ultimate message when it comes to oral hygiene and fertility? 

Well. It matters.

The good news is that it is relatively easily treated. So good oral hygiene (brushing twice a day with flossing) plus regular check ups are a must. Particularly if you’re on the journey of trying to conceive. Every little helps! 

References: 

1)Nwhator SO, Opeodu O, Sorsa T: Could Periodontitis Affect Time to Conception? Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research: 2014 Sept: 4(5):817-822

2) Hart R, Doherty D, Pennell C: Periodontal disease: a potential modifiable risk factor limiting conception: Human Reproduction: Feb 2012. 

3) Kavoussi SK, West B: Periodontal disease and endometriosis: Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Fertility and Sterility: Feb 2009; 91(2): 335-342

 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

 

 

 

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