Oral Health: How It Can Affect Your Fertility

Posted on: 4 September 2015

If you are trying to conceive, you likely are meeting with doctors and specialists who are helping you to understand and solve the puzzle that comes when men and women are unable to get pregnant. Surprisingly, many other aspects of body health, including oral health, affect fertility. Here are some factors about the heath of your teeth and gums that could be a factor in fertility.

Gum Disease

Scientists are starting to realize that gum, or periodontal, disease, has a bigger impact on total body health than people might assume. In addition to increasing the risk of heart disease and type II diabetes, periodontal disease actually can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant.

In fact, one researcher in Australia conducted a study involved over 3400 women. The study found that it took women with gum disease two months longer to conceive compared to average conception in women with good oral health. Women from ethnic (non-white) backgrounds were even more affected: It took them over twelve months to conceive if they were battling periodontal disease. 

Gum disease is prevented by active oral care—brushing and flossing daily, as well as visiting the dentist periodically for more intensive cleaning.  Also, if you do happen to conceive during treatment of periodontal disease, you should not worry. Treatments for gum disease are safe for pregnancy, as is regular dental care.

Silver Fillings

Another dental issue that can affect a couple's ability to conceive is the presence of silver amalgam fillings in the mouth. While these fillings are generally considered to be safe, they can marginally increase the mercury levels in the body. Male sperm count and quality can be altered by the presence of heavy metals in the body in the following three ways:

  • Mercury that travels with semen to the female reproductive system can trigger an antibody response in the woman that kills the sperm as a reaction to the mercury.
  • Mercury blocks needed micronutrients, like manganese, that help sperm to have the mobility they need to reach and fertilize an egg.
  • Mercury binds with proteins in the body, which can affect the production of hormones needed for spermatogenesis.

Mercury also affects females. Mercury from fillings—small amounts that it is—deposits itself in organs and tissues, including the reproductive organs. Mercury can affect the implantation and development of a fetus, leading to higher chances of miscarriage

The Center for Disease Control reports that about 6 percent of women have higher levels of mercury than is recommended for a healthy pregnancy. While fish consumption can be a source of mercury, you should also talk to your dentist about whether or not to replace any silver amalgam fillings. In fact, exposure to these fillings has been shown to reduce fertility in dental hygienists who handle silver amalgam fillings in patients. The constant exposure made these women only 63 percent as likely to conceive as woman who has not been exposed at all.

Another way that mercury can affect a woman's ability to conceive is that it can cause the menstrual cycle to become irregular because they affect the production of hormones like progesterone that regulate a woman's ovulation cycle. The slight differences in hormone production could also be the reason why a fertilized egg is unable to implant. 

As you can see, the teeth have a lot to do with whether are not you and your partner are able to conceive. Talk with your gynecologist and your dentist to ask what treatment options might be applicable to your specific situation, as either you or your partner may hold at least one piece of the puzzle. Visit a site like http://www.centraliowaobgyn.com for more information on the services a gynecologist can offer you to help you stay healthy.