Want to Get Pregnant? Go See Your Dentist

According to a new study, dental issues could mess with your odds of conceiving. So don't skip your next dental appointment!

periodontal disease and fertility sheff/Shutterstock
Could oral hygiene be a factor in your fertility? That's the surprising finding from a new study carried out at the University of Helsinki. The presence of a periodontal pathogen (a bacteria linked to periodontitis, or gum disease) may delay conception in women who are trying to get pregnant, according to study results published in Journal of Oral Microbiology.

The researchers looked at 256 healthy women who were trying to get pregnant over a 12-month period. The women underwent dental and gynecological exams during this time frame, and researchers noted whether or not the subjects showed evidence of major periodontal pathogens or bacterial vaginosis.

After following up with subjects to determine whether or not they had become pregnant, doctors discovered that the presence of the pathogen porphyromonas gingivalis,which is a bacterium associated with periodontal diseases, was more commonly found among women who did not get pregnant within that one-year span.

Researchers adjusted their findings to account for other factors that may delay conception (like smoking, age, socioeconomic status and the presence of bacterial vaginosis) to better understand this connection. 

The takeaway? Maintaining good oral hygiene is one critical step women who are thinking of becoming pregnant should take. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, periodontal disease is common, and it develops due to the formation of plaque or tartar. Luckily, brushing and flossing well can keep plaque at bay, and your dentist can remove tartar. If you're taking good care of your teeth at home and visiting your dentist for frequent check-ups, you should be able to keep this issue under control.

"Our results encourage young women of fertile age to take care of their oral health and attend periodontal evaluations regularly," says researcher Susanna Paju in a release for the study. "Our study does not answer the question on possible reasons for infertility but it shows that periodontal bacteria may have a systemic effect even in lower amounts, and even before clear clinical signs of gum disease can be seen. More studies are needed to explain the mechanisms behind this association."