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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Planning a Family? See Your Dentist

by Roberta Cann, DMD, AIAOMT

Many people give careful thought and planning to providing excellent nutrition and healthcare for their children. Yet one important but often overlooked area to address—even before attempting pregnancy—is the oral health of both Mom and Dad.

Both parents’ oral health can be a big factor in the health of the pregnancy and health of the child. Poor oral health can contribute to reduced fertility, increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth, low birth weight and other health challenges in their offspring.

Couples should be sure to schedule dental appointments before attempting pregnancy so any oral health issues can be treated prior to their journey to parenthood.

Good oral health improves fertility in both parents

Gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease are chronic bacterial infections that affect the gums and the bone supporting the teeth. The resulting inflammation is believed to affect infertility and time to conception.

For men, studies indicate an association between elevated oral bacteria or elevated mercury levels with low sperm count and decreased motility. And for women, elevated oral bacteria or elevated mercury levels can reduce conception rates and successful pregnancies.

Periodontal disease holds an elevated level of bacteria in the mother’s gums, which travels through blood vessels to all parts of the body, including the placenta. The American Academy of Periodontology and the European Federation of Periodontology note that a mom’s periodontal disease is correlated with premature birth, low birth weight and associated health challenges.

Good oral hygiene is necessary to avoid the proliferation of normal mouth bacteria into disease levels. If daily home care and professional teeth cleanings aren’t used to control inflammation in the gums, elevated levels of bacteria can move from the affected gums to the underlying jawbone. This creates deeper crevices of bone loss called “pockets,” which increase levels of bacteria that travel throughout the body.

Since it takes ongoing dental treatment and time to return from having gum disease to having normal oral bacterial levels, it is wise to plan for optimal oral health before attempting pregnancy.

What else is in your mouth?

Another important consideration in family planning is the body’s burden of heavy metals.

Functional medicine physicians recommend that family planning include testing for high levels of heavy metal levels. Many experts and organizations are attempting to bring more awareness to the use of mercury in dentistry. While the American Dental Association considers mercury amalgam fillings to be safe, Dr. Joseph Mercola, a highly popular alternative-medicine proponent, cites research by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) that indicates that mercury gets transmitted from the mother to her baby by crossing the placental barrier and is concentrated in breast milk.

A coalition of 50 environmental, public health and children’s rights group announced a Chicago Declaration to End Dental Industry Mercury Use, calling for an end to dental amalgam in American children and for a two-year general phase-out of its use in the United States. Supporters include the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Clean Water Action and Consumers for Dental Choice.

Effective July 1, 2018, the European Union banned dental-mercury-amalgam use in children under 15, in pregnant women and in breastfeeding mothers.

In his book, Whole Body Dentistry, Dr. Mark Breiner notes that any dental treatment that even touches mercury amalgams should only be done using specific safety precautions and not during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) protocol has been developed through meticulous research by the IAOMT. The IAOMT also recommends that people get mercury removed from all of their body’s tissues and organs, in addition to the mouth, and urges patients to have a functional medicine physician support them as they detox.

If you’re planning for pregnancy, be sure to optimize your oral health by:

  • Brushing twice daily.
  • Regular flossing is vital to healthy gums.
  • Maintaining your regular dental cleanings. They are key to maintaining healthy gums and oral health, and to identifying any problems before they become serious issues.
  • Choosing a dentist who supports your approach to wellness.

Roberta Cann, DMD, AIAOMT is SMART-certified and has been practicing holistic dentistry for total body wellness at her offices at Cann Dentistry since 1983. Contact her at [email protected] or 404-233-1102.

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