Newswise — Mother’s Day brings a special poignancy for women hoping to conceive. If thinking of future children makes you smile — then reach for a toothbrush! While fate determines some fertility factors — new research suggests oral issues may play a key role.

A recent Australian study compared rates of periodontal disease with the speed by which women conceived. Of 1,956 women (average age 31) seeking to become pregnant, 74% had healthy smiles, while the remaining fourth had cavities. Those with periodontal problems took 42% longer to conceive (7 months vs. 5). Why might this be? The kind of oral bacteria that causes cavities also increases inflammation, which not only impacts placental health, but might even increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

Whether or not you’re a wannabe mom — taking care of those choppers can yield big health benefits. Previous research found that people who avoid brushing their teeth were 70% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event (e.g., heart attack) than those with conscientious oral care. Obvious dietary factors in dental health include avoiding sugary fare — but lesser known findings indicate certain foods, like raisins, cranberries and green tea may reduce cavity risk. Eating more fruit and veggies will also help you avoid obesity – which triples your risk of periodontal disease.

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