Poor oral hygiene and gum disease have been identified as a cause of male infertility, Dr Solomon Nwahtor, a Senior Consultant Periodontologist at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, has said.
Nwahtor, who is of the Department of Dentistry at the hospital, said that a bacterium “spermatozoa immobilisation factor’’ had been discovered in the decayed pulp of the tooth that decreases the motility of sperm cells.
“It is not just enough for a man to have adequate amount of sperm, but the sperm has to be highly mobile in order to cross-fertilise the female eggs for conception to take place,’’ Nwahtor said.
He said that a study on some males attending invitro-fertility clinic in the U.S. in 1986, showed that 56 of them were found to be resistant to anti-biotics in the treatment of bacteria in their sperm.
He said that when the affected patients were referred to a dental clinic, they were found to have dental infections, adding that when treated, all the bacteria in their sperm were cleared.
He said that another study by some periodontolists in Israel in 2011 at a fertility clinic, showed that 46 men with low sperm motility were discovered to have gum infection (periodontitis), pointing to “Spermatozoa Immobilisation Factor’’.
Nwahtor said that drawing from the study in Israel, periodontologists in Nigeria decided to conduct some tests in 2012 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and University College Hospital, Ibadan, where 86 men being treated for infertility were examined.
“We were able to establish that there is a link between poor oral hygiene and low sperm motility and not just gum infection,” he said.
He also said that research carried out in 2011 in the U.S . showed that women with periodontitis take longer to conceive than other women. The consultant called on couples with infertility issues to take their oral heath into consideration, adding that something as simple as maintaining good oral heath often neglected by many should not prevent people from having children.
“We are not saying that anybody with infertility issues should just go and clean your teeth and the issue would be solved.
But by keeping an impeccable oral hygiene, having your teeth checked regularly by a dentist, you are helping to remove one possible cause of infertility.
“People will not be fair to themselves if the only reason why they were unable to have children of their own was as a result of poor oral hygiene,” Nwahtor added.