Thinking about getting pregnant?
Put on the music and turn down the lights. Chill some cocktails. Slip into something alluring. And schedule an appointment with your dentist.
A number of research studies in recent years have shown that oral health can make a difference in pregnancy. Specifically, the bacteria that causes gingivitis and periodontitis, P. gingivalis, can be a bad thing for conception and for healthy, full-term pregnancy.
Low birth weight, premature labor and preeclampsia
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that of 3,576 Turkish women, those with periodontal disease were at greater risk for having a low birth weight and preterm birth babies than those with healthy mouths. The researchers went a little further and found in a second study that nonsurgical treatments for periodontal disease—professional cleaning and bacterial control—can improve the likelihood of carrying the pregnancy to full term.
Another study the same year found that same sinister bacteria, P. gingivalis, in the oral cavity as well as in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women who had been diagnosed with a threat of premature labor. Although the researchers acknowledged that there can be many reasons for preterm labor, bacterial infection of the amniotic fluid could potentially be dangerous to both the mother and the baby. “Past research has shown a relationship between adverse pregnancy outcomes and periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection,” stated Gorge Gamonal, the study author. The study was published in the July 2007 issue of Journal of Periodontology.
One more study, also published in Journal of Periodontology in April 2007, found a suspected link between periodontal bacteria and preeclampsia, an abrupt rise in blood pressure that affects about 5 percent of pregnancies. Untreated, preeclampsia can lead to preterm birth and even seizures in the mother. The study found that 50 percent of the placentas from women with preeclampsia were positive for one or more periodontal pathogens. This was more than three times the 14.3 percent found in the control group of women with no preeclampsia.
Difficulty in conception
But it also turns out that periodontal disease can reduce the chances of getting pregnant in the first place. A study from Australia presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology reviewed the cases of 3,416 women. Researchers found that women with gum disease took more than seven months on the average to become pregnant—compared to the average of five months for women without gum disease. For non-Caucasian women, the average length of time to conceive rose to one year.
And, the June 2009 issue of Journal of Sexual Medicine included a study concluding that erectile dysfunction might be associated with chronic periodontal disease. An Israeli study in 2008 found that men with a low sperm count often had gum disease.
So before you start getting romantic, or even if you are already pregnant, make sure your teeth and gums are in top condition. Visit your dentist to deal with any gum disease, and be sure to brush and floss daily.
We at PerioSciences would also suggest a couple of daily doses of AO ProVantage dental gel or AO Pro Rinse. Cool and pleasant tasting, the antioxidants and other ingredients can help soothe and nurture your oral tissues and freshen your breath—helping you get ready for that romantic encounter and maybe a baby!