A study out of the recent annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) turned up more evidence in favor of taking care of your teeth and gums: Research looking at over 3,400 mostly young, pregnant women in western Australia found that periodontal disease (aka diseases of the gums) delayed the time it took the women to conceive by an average of two months. “It took women with gum disease just over seven months to become pregnant, compared to an average five months for counterparts with healthy gums,” reported the AFP. Most of the women in the Australian study were of Asian descent; non-white women with gum disease took over a year to conceive.
What causes the delay? That's not clear, but it may be inflammation caused by bacteria in the mouth, which could affect tissue in a woman’s reproductive tract. This isn’t the first time that inflammation caused by gum disease has been linked to health problems, though. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) says there’s an association between periodontal diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. There’s more good reasons to get your gums and teeth healthy now, before you get pregnant too: The AAP says that gum disease is linked to premature birth and low birthweight babies.
Not sure if you’re at risk? Take the AAP’s risk assessment test. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating; receding gums (making your teeth look longer); loose teeth and shifting tooth positions where teeth no longer touch; and lost teeth.