Dental Health Matters

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Who would have thought there is a link between gum disease or periodontal disease and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, respiratory and kidney disease, or problems in pregnancy such as miscarriage and premature birth? Research has shown these links do exist.

dental healthsAnd now, new research presented to the conference by Prof Hart, Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Western Australia and Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia also reveals a link between gum disease and difficulty conceiving. In this Western Australia study of 3737 women it was found that women with gum disease took an average of 7 months to conceive whereas the average time for women without gum disease to become pregnant was only 5 months. This time frame was increased to over 12months in non-caucasian women with gum disease.

A little closer to home we can see dental problems are the second leading reason (the first is diabetes complications) for ‘avoidable’ hospitalisations in Stonnington, according to the council’s Municipal Public Health Plan 2009 – 2013. While dental hygiene is obviously not the only cause of reduced fertility rates, these findings indicate it may well be worth a trip to your dentist if you are having difficulty conceiving.

Gum disease or Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums. While every mouth contains bacteria, poor oral hygiene can result in over-collinisation that can lead to infection. Unchecked the inflammation causes pockets to form between the teeth and gums allowing for the infection to find its way into the bloodstream and potentially cause a range of health problems.

Because oral health can change during pregnancy due to fluctuating hormones, you may be more susceptible periodontal disease, particularly if oral hygiene is poor. It’s important to get this under control early because research also shows that women with periodontal disease in the second trimester of their pregnancy are 7 x more likely to have a premature delivery, which carries health risks to your baby.

So it’s a good idea to keep up your regular dental checks through pregnancy too, but always let your dentist know you are pregnant so they can decide on the best and safest course of treatment for you.

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