For the first time, fertility experts have shown that, from the time that a woman starts trying to conceive, poor oral health can have a significant effect on the time to pregnancy.
Professor Roger Hart told the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology that the negative effect of gum disease on conception was of the same order of magnitude as the effect of obesity.
Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic, infectious and inflammatory disease of the gums and supporting tissues. It is caused by the normal bacteria that exist in everyone's mouths, which, if unchecked, can create inflammation around the tooth; the gum starts to pull away from the tooth, creating spaces (periodontal pockets) that become infected. The inflammation sets off a cascade of tissue-destructive events that can pass into the circulation. As a result, 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. Around 10% of the population is believed to have severe periodontal disease. Regular brushing and flossing of teeth is the best way of preventing it.
Prof Hart, who is Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Western Australia (Perth, Australia) and Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia, said: "Until now, there have been no published studies that investigate whether gum disease can affect a woman's chance of conceiving, so this is 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."
The researchers followed a group 3737 pregnant women, who were taking part in a Western Australian study called the SMILE study, and they analysed information on pregnancy planning and pregnancy outcomes for 3416 of them.
They found that women with gum disease took an average of just over sev
|Contact: Hanna Hanssen|
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology