Oral health is more than an indicator of overall well-being: it may also impact fertility and outcomes of IVF. Women who struggle with infertility find themselves investigating root cause in hopes of successfully conceiving. While doctors may quickly turn to IVF or other fertility treatment options, there are still underlying causes that must be uncovered for successful conception and carrying to term.
One of the potential contributing factors to prolonged infertility could be periodontal disease, an inflammatory disease of supporting tissues of teeth caused by specific microorganisms. The infection, caused by bacteria, can negatively impact many parts of a woman’s body. Reproductive failure can be caused by the numerous complications, including inflammation, that arise from poor oral health.
While more research is required for fertility, specifically, this article will review three, peer-reviewed bodies of research that indicate a connection between fertility and dental care. We recommend collaborating with your OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) and dentist for more information.
Oral Health and IVF
Studies begun in 2017 have tracked the success of fertility treatments in relation to oral health. Periodontal health has been definitively connected to diseases like Type II diabetes and issues like preterm labor or low birth weight. Now, medical researchers are finding that failure rates in fertility treatments, including IVF, are connected to periodontal health. Based on these studies, periodontitis and reproductive health are linked because of bacterial infections.
The educated assumption of researchers is that women who have periodontitis also have bacteremia in the uterus. This spread of bacteria activates the immune system, which causes an overproduction of proinflammatory prostaglandins and cytokines. This leads to longer timelines for conception that tends to result in fertility treatments, hormonal supplements and IVF.