7 Ways Your Dental Health Can Affect Your Fertility
Trying to have a baby? Don't forget to brush and floss! Here are some surprising ways dental health can affect your fertility.
Gum Disease Can Delay Pregnancy
On average, it takes a woman five months to conceive once she starts trying to have a baby. However, for women with chronically swollen and inflamed gums— two common symptoms of gum disease—it usually takes seven months. Why? Researchers from Sweden believe inflammation in the mouth can set off a chain reaction that damages overall health, including reproductive health. In a recent report, they compared poor oral health to obesity for its potential to delay conception.
Check Your Mouthwash Ingredients
Could your mouthwash be what’s standing in the way of you becoming pregnant? Before the next time you swish, check the label to see if your favorite brand contains triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial compound. According to environmental research in animals, the chemical can affect levels of reproductive hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Some researchers say the effects of triclosan are similar to other chemical ingredients labeled as “endocrine disruptors,” such as bisphenol A (BPA). According to the FDA, triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans, but due to raised concerns, the agency is currently reviewing the compound.
One reason to continue using mouthwash? According to another study, regular use of mouthwash during pregnancy resulted in lower rates of preterm birth.
Dental Health & His Fertility
It’s not just female fertility that’s affected by dental health. In a 2010 Israeli study that assessed 75 men between the ages 23 and 52 who came into a fertility clinic for sperm analysis, more than 80 percent of men had either gingivitis (milder inflammation of the gums) or periodontal (gum) disease. Analyzing testing results, researchers also found that 68 percent of the men had low sperm counts or other sperm problems.
Nitrous Oxide Is No Laughing Matter
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is often used to sedate patients undergoing invasive dental treatments. Is it safe to use if you’re trying to become pregnant? According to a study of female dental hygienists, researchers found that women exposed to high levels of nitrous oxide at least five hours per week were significantly less fertile than women who were unexposed. The amount of laughing gas you’re exposed to at one appointment may be minimal, but it still may be wise to let your dentist know about your TTC plans before the scheduled dental procedure.
Do Amalgam Fillings Matter?
Concerns over the effects of mercury on human fertility have led some women to question the safety of silver amalgam fillings, which contain small amounts of the toxic heavy metal. Should you be concerned? According to the American Dental Association, probably not. In a recently issued report on the safety of silver amalgam, the ADA noted that one study “found no differences in fertility and pregnancy outcome between female teachers and female dentists. This study offers a useful comparison, as dentists’ mercury exposure generally exceeds mercury exposure in non—occupationally exposed people with amalgam restorations (fillings).”
Before Having Dental Surgery
Need to have dental surgery? Because you are actively TTC, there is a chance that at the time of your dental procedure you could be pregnant (and just don’t know it yet). Your dentist may need to use or prescribe medications, including antibiotics and prescription pain killers, as part of your procedure and post-surgery recovery. Some medications may be considered safe for limited use during pregnancy, but others may be best avoided. Even if you don’t think you’re pregnant, before any kind of surgery or procedure, let your dentist know there is a chance that you might be.
Maintain Healthy Dental Habits
Been a while since you’ve seen the dentist? It may be more important than ever to stick with those regular dental check ups now to prevent dental problems later when you’re actually pregnant (here’s more on dental health during pregnancy). Between dental visits, give your teeth and your TTC efforts a little more TLC by practicing excellent dental hygiene habits. In other words, brush at least twice a day. And don’t forget to floss!
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