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Women told to 'floss for fertility'

As if you didn’t need more reasons to floss: poor dental hygiene has been linked to a delay in a woman’s ability to conceive – and a host of other health problems.

Image: Sarah Scicluna via Creative Commons

WOMEN TRYING TO become pregnant have been advised to floss regularly as poor dental hygiene can delay conception, according to doctors.

At a meeting of fertility experts in Sweden, doctors heard how a recent study in Australia – called the The SMILE study - found that women with gum disease took two months longer to conceive than women with good dental hygiene.

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) has previously been linked to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, poor sperm quality, and respiratory and kidney disease.

The University of Western Australia study, which involved 3,737 pregnant women, is the first to conclusively link gum disease with female fertility, said lead researcher Professor Roger Hart: “Until now, there have been no published studies that investigate whether gum disease can affect a woman’s chance of conceiving, so 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.”

Furthermore, non-Caucasian women with gum disease were found to be more likely experience a delay in conceiving – taking more than one year on average to become pregnant compared to those without gum disease.

Hart said: “All women about to plan for a family should be encouraged to see their general practitioner to ensure that they are as healthy as possible before trying to conceive and so that they can be given appropriate lifestyle advice with respect to weight loss, diet and assistance with stopping smoking and drinking, plus the commencement of folic acid supplements.

“Additionally, it now appears that all women should also be encouraged to see their dentist to have any gum disease treated before trying to conceive. It is easily treated, usually involving no more than four dental visits,” he added.

Read more: Irish mums have more kids than EU counterparts >

Read more: Scientists grow sperm in laboratory >

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