Perth, Australia: Women who want to have a baby should brush their teeth and floss regularly, according to an Australian research.
It found that poor oral health is as bad for fertility as obesity - delaying the chances of conceiving by about two months.
The study, which involved 3737 pregnant women, is the first to conclusively link gum disease with female fertility.
Until now, there have been no published studies that investigate whether gum disease can affect a woman``s chance of conceiving, so this is the first report to suggest that gum disease might be one of several factors that could be modified to improve the chances of a pregnancy, said Roger Hart, who is Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Western Australia (Perth, Australia) and Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia.
The researchers, who followed a group 3737 pregnant women, analysed information on pregnancy planning and pregnancy outcomes for 3416 of them.
They found that women with gum disease took an average of just over seven months to become pregnant two months longer than the average of five months that it took women without gum disease to conceive.
In addition, non-Caucasian women with gum disease were more likely to take over a year to become pregnant compared to those without gum disease: their increased risk of later conception was 13.9 pc compared to 6.2 pc for women without gum disease.
Caucasian women with gum disease also tended to take longer to conceive than those who were disease-free but the difference was not statistically significant (8.6 pc of Caucasian women with gum disease took over one year to conceive and 6.2 pc of women with gum disease).
Information on time to conception was available for 1,956 women, and of, these, 146 women took longer than 12 months to conceive an indicator of impaired fertility.
They were more likely to be older, non-Caucasian, to smoke and to have a body mass index over 25 kg/m2. Out of the 3416 women, 1014 (26 pc) had periodontal disease.
Our data suggest that the presence of periodontal disease is a modifiable risk factor, which can increase a woman``s time to conception, particularly for non-Caucasians, said Hart.
It now appears that all women should be encouraged to see their dentist to have any gum disease treated before trying to conceive. It is easily treated, usually involving no more than four dental visits, he added.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology recently.