Oral health, overall health and TTC

microbiome oral health conception Agnes Ryu

You may be surprised to learn that bad teeth, inflamed, eroding gums and dental work such as root canals have the potential to initiate many chronic health issues. How you care for your mouth can directly influence the way you look and feel, both emotionally and physically. Researchers are just beginning to understand the impact of oral infection on the body’s systems and vital organs. There is increasing evidence of an association between poor oral health and a number of clinically important medical conditions including infertility. 

Make sure your mouth is not the source of your problem

In 2011 Professor Roger Hart told the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) that the negative effect of gum disease on conception was of the same order of magnitude as the effect of obesity. Women who are trying to become pregnant should make sure they visit their dentist and brush their teeth regularly since preliminary research revealed that gum disease potentially can lengthen the time it takes for a woman to become pregnant by an average of an extra two months. For the first time, fertility experts have shown that, from the time that a woman starts trying to conceive, poor oral health can have a significant effect on the time to pregnancy. 

Your Mouth Is A Gateway To The Body

Most people harbour 300 species of bacteria in their mouths and the impact of the oral cavity on the body is proportionally off the scale. What happens in your mouth doesn’t stay only in the mouth and can affect your body as a whole. A problem in your mouth can cause chronic systemic inflammation by emitting disease-causing microbes and their toxic wastes. As the gatekeeper of your gut, the oral microbiome sets the stage for everything to come. 45% of the bacteria in the mouth are also found in the gut. Your oral health, by way of your oral microbiome, is intrinsically linked with gut health and alters the gut microbiome, through the diffusion of bacteria into the bloodstream via the gum pockets, by affecting the composition of saliva and through its direct effects on upper respiratory health. The healthier your mouth and oral microbiome are, the healthier your gut, immune system, and entire body. 

Mother’s poor oral health and adverse pregnancy outcomes 

Researchers have known for a long time that having unhealthy gums tends to correlate with certain types of birth complications. Studies show that bacteria travel from the mother’s mouth to the placenta, giving babies their first exposure to microbes while in the uterus and setting them up with a foundational microbiome that continues to grow and supports them for the rest of their lives.

Microbiomes in the mouth are transferrable between partners so both need to ensure oral health as preconception care and lifelong routine for healthy microbiome restoration. 

Restoration of ecology

Eat fermented foods, like yoghurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. Carbohydrate-heavy, sugary snacks allow bad bacteria to proliferate. Every time you swallow, you are seeding your gastrointestinal tract with bacteria, fungi, and viruses from your mouth — 140 billion per day, to be exact (Source: Heal Your Oral Microbiome by Cass Nelson-Dooley, MS). I regard oral health restoration as an important measure of anti-ageing strategy and prevention of serious chronic diseases such as dementia.  

Although brushing, flossing and mouthwash use are recommended, note that antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash or toothpaste destroy the delicate ecology in our mouths, wiping out all the good bacteria and reducing the diversity that our microbiomes need to thrive. Keeping the oral cavity sterile is not possible or desirable. 

Mouthwash ingredients can also destroy the healthy bacteria in your gut. These bacteria produce precious nitric oxide which is produced by your body to keep your arteries open and healthy. When you have low levels of nitric oxide the arteries especially those in the heart and penis will narrow and cause poor circulation. This can result in erectile dysfunction and heart problems. So don’t use mouthwash.




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Agnes Ryu

Agnes Ryu

Dr. Ryu is a clinician and biochemist specializing in integrative medicine. Her clinical interests include fertility, hormones, metabolism, healthy ageing, menopause, and natural breast cancer care. As an integrative practitioner, Dr. Ryu aims to uncover the root causes of health issues and strives to empower patients with the knowledge and tools to take charge of their own health.

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