Trying to Conceive? Keep up with your Dental visitsLisanne Wellness Center
There are so many things to consider when you are trying to get pregnant. You’ve likely heard it all before: eat a healthy diet, make sure you take the essential supplements, maintain a healthy weight, time intercourse with your fertility window, and the list goes on. One aspect that often gets overlooked is your oral health. Most people don’t think of “dentists” when they think of fertility, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored!
Proper oral health practices are essential for maintaining good overall health. Gum diseases, including gingivitis and the more severe periodontitis, affect almost half of Americans. Periodontitis refers to an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. It is caused by a buildup of plaque (a film of harmful bacteria which create toxins that can damage your gums). Gum disease can spread beyond painful gums and sore teeth; it can lead to several health issues including cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and poor pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and premature births.
In addition to the problems listed above, new research has linked the presence of periodontal pathogens (bacteria that cause gum disease) with a delay in conception.
The study, published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology, involved 256 healthy non-pregnant women who were trying to conceive and compared the presence of oral pathogens with successful conception after 12 months.
The researchers found that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium commonly associated with periodontal disease, was found more often in women who did not become pregnant (8.3%) vs. women who did (2.1%). Higher levels of antibodies (found by analyzing saliva samples) against P. gingivalis were significantly associated with no success of conception.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The link between this gum disease-causing bacteria with decreased chance of pregnancy emphasizes the importance of maintaining good oral health. Because potentially harmful bacteria feed of off the biofilm formed by plaque and tartar, preventing build-up is key. Watch out for the following symptoms, which could indicate the beginning of a more serious gum disease:
- Bad breath
- Red and/or swollen gums
- Painful and/or sensitive teeth
- Tender and/or bleeding gums
- Teeth that have started to pull away from your gums
- Loose teeth or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Routine oral hygiene practices are essential for preventing periodontitis. Make sure to brush twice per day and floss once per day to remove the bacteria that causes gum disease. Routine dental check-ups and cleanings are also important for maintaining good oral health.
There are also lifestyle changes you can make to decrease your risk. These include:
Quit Smoking: If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, you should quit smoking for many health reasons, including lowering your risk of gum disease. Smokers have double the risk of getting gum disease compared to non-smokers. Smoking weakens your immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight off any infections, including periodontitis.
Eat a Balanced Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Research shows that a balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory foods such as oily fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D), brightly colored fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli and red bell peppers, and curcumin-containing spices like ginger and turmeric is essential for good dental and overall health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is linked to periodontitis, likely due to bioactive substances related to inflammation including reactive oxygen species. Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (plus two strength-training sessions in) each week. If you’d like help designing a fitness routine that you’ll be able to work into your daily schedule, you can try our 28-Day Transformation program.
For more information about how to maximize your fertility, contact Lisanne Wellness Center at 713-461-WELL (9355). Our functional medicine specialists can work with you to design a customized program based on your lifestyle and unique circumstances.