Dental News - Periodontal pathogen may interfere with conception in young women

Search Dental Tribune

Periodontal pathogen may interfere with conception in young women

Research encourages young women of fertile age to take care of their oral health in order to avoid delayed conception. (Photograph: Solis Images/Shutterstock)

Tue. 20. June 2017


HELSINKI, Finland: In a new study recently carried out by researchers at the University of Helsinki, it was found that the common periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis may inhibit conception in young women. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, severe chronic periodontitis is the sixth most common medical condition in the world. Up until now, no data on the influence of periodontal bacteria on conception has been available.

The study investigated whether microbiological and serological markers of periodontitis are associated with conception and involved 256 women aged between 19 and 42 who had stopped contraception in order to fall pregnant. The participants were initially interviewed on their medical history, smoking habits, oral hygiene habits, previous dental visits and socio-economic status. Oral examinations established the presence of carious lesions and periodontal disease (based on pocket depth, visible plaque, bleeding on probing and clinical periodontal attachment loss). In order to detect periodontal pathogens and the associated antibodies, the researchers analysed collected serum and stimulated saliva. For the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis, gynaecological speculum examinations were performed and vaginal swabs were taken. The participants were followed for 12 months to establish whether they had become pregnant.

According to the results, P. gingivalis in the saliva was significantly more common among those who did not conceive than among those who did (8.3 per cent compared with 2.1 per cent). Levels of salivary and serum antibodies against the pathogen were also significantly higher in the women who did not become pregnant. Furthermore, statistical analysis showed that the finding was independent of other risk factors contributing to conception, such as age, socio-economic status, bacterial vaginosis, previous deliveries or clinical periodontal disease.

“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,” said periodontist and lead author Dr Susanna Paju, from the University of Helsinki.

The study group was fairly homogenous regarding socio-economic status and general health. However, study limitations included a lack of information on the exact discontinuation date of contraception, the length of use of any birth control methods, and whether delayed conception was attributable to the participants or to their spouses.

“The association between P. gingivalis and delayed conception needs to be confirmed in other settings and a larger material, and the mechanisms explaining this association need to be clarified. The present data, however, encourage women in fertile age to maintain good oral hygiene and to attend periodontal evaluations regularly in order to avoid periodontal infection,” the authors said in their research report.

The study, titled “Porphyromonas gingivalis may interfere with conception in women”, was published online on 12 June in the Journal of Oral Microbiology.

To post a reply please login or register