A recent Australian study comparing rates of periodontal disease with the rates in which women conceive has concluded that African-American women struggling with periodontal disease might also have problems with fertility factors. The reasoning is that the kind of oral bacteria that causes cavities also increases inflammation. This impacts placental health and might even increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
The study – published in the journal Human Reproduction – focused on the treatment of periodontal disease complications during pregnancy. The study involved women with planned pregnancies – 1,956 – and another 146 women needing more than one year in order to get pregnant. This sub-group was also struggling with a higher incidence of periodontal disease.
Of the 1,956 women seeking to become pregnant – average age 31 – 74 percent had healthy smiles while the remaining fourth had cavities. Those with periodontal problems took 42 percent longer to conceive.
The study showed:
- It took an average of seven months for African-American women with periodontal disease complications to get pregnant
- African-American women not struggling with oral health problems needed five months on average to get pregnant
- Many of the women who took more than 12 months to get pregnant smoked, were older or were struggling with obesity
The researchers encourage further studies for conclusive data on whether periodontal disease in African-American women is a high-risk fertility factor. It was also noted that non-Caucasian women who have periodontal disease are typically three times as likely to need well over 12 months to get pregnant compared to Caucasian women.
Risks Associated With Periodontal Disease
Other important risks associated with periodontal disease include low birth weight or premature birth. Women are advised to always pay great attention to oral health and to the proper treatment of periodontal disease in its early stages.