Professor Roger Hart of the University of Western Australia told the recent annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology that the negative effect of gum disease on conception was of the same order of magnitude as the effect of obesity.
'Until now, there have been no published studies that investigate whether gum disease can affect a woman's chance of conceiving,' said Professor Hart, who is Professor of Reproductive Medicine as well as Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia. '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.'
Researchers followed 3,737 pregnant women and analysed information on pregnancy planning and outcomes for 3,416 of them.1
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.
Information on time to conception was available for 1,956 women and, of these, 146 women took longer than a year 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 3,416 women, 1,014 women (26%) had periodontal disease.
Hart R, Doherty D A, Newnham I A, Pennell C E, Newnham J P . Periodontal disease – a further potentially modifiable risk factor limiting conception – a case for a pre-pregnancy dental check-up? [Abstract number O-177]. Hum Reprod 2011; 26(Suppl 1): i70.
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Gum disease increases time to conception. Br Dent J 211, 105 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2011.636