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Oh Baby: The Effect of Oral Health on Fertility

You may have already heard how your oral health can affect the health of your unborn baby during pregnancy, but several new studies have found that the oral health of not just the mother but both parents prior to conception matters, too. Here’s why.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and soft tissues that hold your teeth in place. It is frequently caused by poor oral hygiene, such as forgetting to brush or floss your teeth. The good news is that periodontal disease is completely preventable, and usually reversible - but this requires due diligence on the patient’s end. Unfortunately, in addition to causing damage to the gums and soft tissues, periodontal disease can sometimes result in lost teeth and even lost portions of gums and jaw bone.

According to a recent study out of Australia, a sample of 3,737 pregnant women found that women who have periodontal disease and were trying to conceive took an additional 2.1 months to get pregnant over the ones who did not have periodontal disease. Furthermore, women who had preexisting conditions that made conception difficult, such as endometriosis and PCOS, had higher rates of periodontal disease than those who did not have those conditions.

The problem gets worse after conception, because periodontal disease can also cause serious side effects during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, low birthrate, gestational diabetes and even preterm labor. This is why even though brushing your teeth and going to the dentist can be painful due to the heightened sensitivity your gums experience during pregnancy, it is vital for both the mother and the baby that the mother take care of her oral health during pregnancy.

And dad’s not off the hook, either. Several studies examining male fertility and oral health found that men with periodontal disease have a higher risk of low sperm count, low motility and a higher instance of abnormally shaped sperm. Furthermore, the studies noticed a link between erectile dysfunction and higher rates of gum disease, to boot.

If you are pregnant or you and your partner are trying to conceive, start out on the right foot and be sure to schedule an oral health exam with Dr. Abelar. Please call the office at 858-256-5089.

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