Oral hygiene and oral health play a significant role in both male and female fertility. Recent studies have concluded that both men and women with gum disease and/or poor oral hygiene have a much harder time conceiving a child. How?

First let’s start with what gum disease actually IS. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is characterized by chronically inflamed or infected gums and surrounding tissues. Bacteria found in the mouth cause this. From these bacteria, a build-up of plaque can occur as a result of poor oral hygiene, which converts itself to tartar if left untreated. Tartar is much harder to remove. Not only that but untreated plaque and tartar build-up can cause gingivitis, which is an inflammation caused by the bacteria that creates the plaque and tartar. Finally, if these problems continue to not be addressed and proper oral hygiene is still not followed, this can lead to a disease called periodontitis, wherein both the bone of the tooth itself and the surrounding gums and tissues become inflamed and infected.

The bacteria associated with periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene can wreak havoc on other parts of the body, especially when these bacteria enter the bloodstream. This is why gum disease is linked to respiratory disease, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and finally – miscarriage.

Furthermore, pregnant women with gum disease are more at risk of delivering their babies prematurely and/or having low birth weight babies. A recent study found that women with gum disease took, on average, two additional months to conceive than those without the disease. Additionally, the study also found that non-Caucasian women with gum disease took up to twelve months longer to conceive!

Studies have also shown that poor oral hygiene can even infect sperm. A bacteria found in semen, called bacteriospermia, has been linked to male fertility. It is therefore very important to maintain good oral hygiene - not only to prevent poor sperm health, gum disease, other diseases associated with bacteria entering the bloodstream, but also if you are trying to conceive and/or increase your fertility.

Apparently 1 in 10 people have severe periodontal disease, which can be prevented by simply brushing and flossing on a regular basis. Also, treatments for gum disease while pregnant do not cause any harm to the growing fetus or mother.

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