Fertility and periodontal disease, gum disease, or gingivitis are linked more than you might realize. These are bacterial infections that can cause swollen gums and bleeding while brushing your teeth. This gingivitis is usually a result of poor oral hygiene, but factors like medicine and hormone changers also play a role.
At IVF Phoenix I believe that systemic inflammatory markers do affect egg and sperm quality. Over the past 25 years, I have worked my model to reduce inflammation in my patient population. I can hear Rhoda screaming “publish your results!!” as I write this post to share with you. That said, there ARE studies which have shown that periodontal status impacts fertility by virtue of its defining characteristic – inflammation. Chronic inflammation can become systemic and prevent ovulation and implantation, and the waste products produced by the periodontal bacteria are able to pass through the placenta to the baby and cause fetal toxicity. The presence of bacteria and its metabolic toxic by-products (bacteremia and endotoxemia) in the bloodstream, alongside immune system responses such as increased cytokines (which play a key role in general immunity and inflammation) can all affect reproductive outcomes.
Women with healthy oral hygiene routines take 2 months less to conceive on average compared to women with gum disease. Numerous studies have been conducted linking gum disease with fertility across multiple ethnicities. Studies have also shown that women who have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome are at a greater risk for gum disease, sometimes an increase of 57% more likelihood of having these problems.
A 2014 study established the link between poor oral hygiene and low sperm count. Gum disease can lower your sperm rapidly, and also causes decreased motility. They can’t survive long enough to reach the egg and inseminate. In fact, gum disease can cause bacterial infections in your semen and change everything, right down to their shape! On the positive side, male partners who maintain adequate oral hygiene have also been shown to have much healthier semen.
Let’s face it-none of us jump at the mention of making a dental appointment but It is imperative that you visit your dentist regularly, floss daily and watch for bleeding gums.