Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, respiratory diseases and cancer. Research continues to suggest that where there’s inflammation, oral bacteria may also be found – even in seemingly strange places such as knees and other joints .
Two more conditions now join the list: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and erectile dysfunction.
A new study in the Journal of Periodontal Research shows the “significant association” between periodontitis – advanced, severe gum disease – and OSA. Specifically, in evaluating nearly 700 participants, they found that of the 17.5% diagnosed with periodontitis, 60% also had OSA.
OSA was positively associated with periodontitis, probing pocket depth, and [clinical attachment level] in a dose-response manner, according to the researchers. It was also positively associated with periodontitis in subjects 55 years of age and older but not in subjects younger than 55, they noted.
At this stage, we can’t say that one causes the other, only that these two conditions very frequently occur together.
The same holds for findings recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which suggests a link between gum disease and male sexual dysfunction. According to Wiley’s press release,
Turkish researchers compared 80 men aged 30 to 40 with erectile dysfunction with a control group of 82 men without erection problems.
This showed that 53 per cent of the men with erectile dysfunction had inflamed gums compared with 23 per cent in the control group.
When the results were adjusted for other factors, such as age, body mass index, household income and education level, the men with severe periodontal disease were 3.29 times more likely to suffer from erection problems than men with healthy gums.
The study excluded smokers, older men and those with systemic illness, as all are already at elevated risk for both conditions.
Again, a causal connection is far from clear at this stage. The usual hope is that taking care of one condition helps lower risk of the other.
All the more reason to make wise choices that support both oral and systemic health, as well as a robust immune system and healthy biological terrain.