Having a healthy smile (and healthy gums) mean more than looking your best in your snaps and selfies. It could also make a difference in how long it takes to conceive. Not only that, gum disease has been linked to poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth.
Your mouth is full of bacteria–more than 500, actually. Your gums are full of tiny blood vessels. When gum disease becomes severe (called periodontitis) and little pockets of pus form below the gum line (yuck!), the bacteria can spread through all those tiny blood vessels to your blood stream, and trigger inflammation. Periodontitis-caused inflammation has pretty strong links to heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. A new study from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine showed that people with severe gum disease were more than twice as likely to have a stroke. In this study, chronic gum disease in women was associated with increased time to conceive.
But guys aren’t off the hook here. A small study showed a link between gum health and decreased sperm motility. There has even been a significant association between poor oral hygiene and low sperm counts. So guys, grab that toothbrush and waterpik and get to it!#DYK Healthy gums could improve your #fertility? More info here: bit.ly/2lK2x1H #loveyourgums Click To Tweet
Periodontitis may even be associated with a greater risk of having endometriosis–a cause of infertility.
Enemies of Healthy Gums
- Poor Diet
- Poor oral hygiene
- Hormonal changes: taking oral contraceptives, pregnancy
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Gum Disease Warning Signs
- Bad breath or bad taste that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Here are some tips for taking care of your teeth:
- Floss daily. This is job one for healthy gums! Flossing decreases the amount of bacterial plaque in the mouth, thus decreasing the risk of gum disease. If you have any symptoms of gum disease, see your dentist immediately!
- Rinse with an alcohol-free, over-the-counter mouth rinse containing 0.05% sodium fluoride once a day or 0.02% sodium fluoride rinse twice a day to help reduce plaque levels and help promote enamel remineralization.
- Brush after every meal or snack. If that’s not possible, chew sugar-free or xylitol containing gum. Chewing for at least 20 minutes has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Sugar-free gums which decrease the actions that cause tooth decay receive The American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Wrigley’s Orbit & Extra, Trident, Stride and Dentyne Ice all have the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance.
- Eat a Tooth-Friendly diet. Good nutrition is the first defense against gum disease, so follow the Eating Expectantly Before Baby Diet with emphasis on dairy and getting enough antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene. People who eat dairy foods, including fermented dairy food like yogurt, Yakult, acidophilus milk or kefir, appear to have a lower risk of periodontal disease.
- Eat more whole grains. In a recent study, eating three whole grains a day lowered the risk of gum disease by 23% compared to those that ate less than ½ serving a day.
- Take care when eating cavity-promoting foods; brush or rinse after consuming these:
- Donuts, potato chips, crackers, cookies, sweetened cereal and similar starchy foods
- Acidic, sweet drinks like lemonade, sports drinks and cola
- Sticky sweet foods like caramel, fruit chews and dried fruit
- Eat tooth-friendly snacks like cheese, nuts and raw veggies.
- See your dentist regularly for a check up and cleaning. How often? At least once a year.