Women with gum disease may have problems trying to get pregnant, according to new research.
The study found women with the bacteria P. Gingivalis in their saliva were likely to spend three times longer trying to conceive than women without, the Daily Mail reports.
Women who carried the bacteria and who also showed symptoms of periodontitis – an inflammation around the gums that could result in tooth loss – could take four times as long.
The researchers claim inflammatory infections in the mouth and jaw caused by the bacteria can lead to further inflammation in the body, and can impact ovulation.
The study has also suggested the body’s response to inflammation may have some effect on hormone production, and could contribute to endometriosis.
Dr Susanna Paju, of the University of Helsinki said: “Our study does not answer the question on possible reasons for infertility but it shows that periodontal bacteria may have a systemic effect even in lower amounts, and even before clear clinical signs of gum disease can be seen.
“Our results encourage young women of fertile age to take care of their oral health and attend periodontal evaluations regularly”.
The study looked at a group of 256 women aged between 19 – 42 who were not using contraception and were trying to get pregnant.
The health of their teeth, gums and reproductive organs was assessed and over the following 12 months the group was observed to see if they became pregnant.
Key findings from the case-study group showed the bacteria P Gingivalis was “significantly more frequently detected in the saliva among women who did not become pregnant during the one-year follow up period than among those who did”.
Although earlier research has shown a link between gum disease and conception delays, this research is the first to identify specific bacteria.
Recommendations for women trying to conceive include regular dental checks, taking a daily dose of folic acid, and to have any weight issues managed by a professional.