Is There a Link between Dental Health and Men’s Fertility?

By now, we’ve all heard about the health risks of poor oral hygiene, which go far beyond toothaches, cavities and tooth loss. Neglecting your dental health can put you at greater risk for heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and other medical issues. According to new research, it may also affect your ability to have a child someday.

Poor oral health, especially gum disease, has been linked to infertility in both men and women. It can affect the speed with which a woman gets pregnant but has also been linked to endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm labor, miscarriage, and low birth weight in babies.

Of course, the negative effects on fertility aren’t limited to women. Men with poor dental health and gum disease may also find themselves facing male factor infertility, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and other problems. Let’s look at these in more detail, to understand why good oral hygiene is important and how you can maintain it.

How Does Oral Hygiene Affect Men’s Fertility?

Poor oral hygiene is one of the main causes of gum disease, which can cause tooth loss, bone loss in the jaw as well as other health issues. According to a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control, over 46 percent of all adults in the U.S. over the age of 30 suffer from gum disease, which affects a higher percentage of men than women.

Gum disease usually begins as gingivitis, with symptoms such as bleeding, irritation, redness and soreness of gums. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can turn into serious periodontal disease. This is basically a bacterial infection that affects gum as well as bone tissue in the mouth, but it can also lead to high levels of bacterial toxins in other parts of your body.

Bacterial inflammation from gum disease may be associated with vascular disease, according to many studies. Toxins from plaque buildup don’t only affect teeth, gums, and bones in the mouth, but they may also damage endothelial cells that line blood vessels in the body (including the penis), causing impaired blood flow and erectile dysfunction.

Here are some examples of research linking poor oral health with men’s infertility:

Oral bacterial buildup and other dental problems may also be related to bacteriospermia or bacterial infection in the semen, low sperm motility, abnormal sperm morphology and other issues. Some research suggests that treating cavities and oral infections could lead to an improvement in sperm health, but more studies are needed on that front.

The Bottom Line on Good Oral Health and Fertility

Regardless of whether there is a direct link between oral health and fertility or not, it’s crucial to keep your teeth and gums in great shape. Putting off your six-monthly dental checkup or letting your oral hygiene routine slide now could bring you a whole lot of trouble later, so why take that risk at all?

Make sure you brush your teeth and floss regularly, avoid sugary or acidic foods, quit smoking, and schedule regular appointments with your dentist!

Dr. Satish Pai

View posts by Dr. Satish Pai
Dr. Satish Pai is a New York-based dentist and has served as faculty at Columbia University. He believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health.

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