BV – you also probably have it in your mouths

Research has revealed that women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) also often have the same dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance) in their mouths. This means that when you are treating BV in your vagina, you also need to consider that you and anyone you are kissing regularly probably has it in their mouths too.

There are only a few research pieces that shed light on BV-causing bacterial colonisation of the mouth.

What the research says

     Study #1 – Condition of periodontal tissue in women with bacterial vaginosis, Petrushanko, Shul’Zhenko, and Krutikova, Georgian medical news, December 2014(237), pp.24-8

This paper presents findings of clinical features of periodontal tissues – the mouth and gums – in women with bacterial vaginosis. The researchers looked for the correlations between bacteria in the mouth and vagina, discovering that all the women in their study group with bacterial vaginosis also had general inflammation and periodontal disease of varying severity.

Gardnerella vaginalis, which is not normally found in the mouth, was detected using PCR testing in the mouth and the vagina of all the women in the research. The major markers of BV were also found in the mouth of these women, for example a more alkaline pH and a decrease in salivation rate. There was also more mucous present, and classic BV markers such as clue cells – which are not normally present in the mouth.

     Study #2 – Longitudinal study of vaginal flora: Increasing periodontal disease (PD) burden is associated with increased risk for bacterial vaginosis (BV), Andrews et al, 2005

This study of over 3,500 women looked into the association between periodontal disease and bacterial vaginosis. The women in the study had their vaginal microflora evaluated every three months for a year, with a dental examination at the first study visit.

At the first visit, about 40 per cent of the women had a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis, while 25 per cent had periodontal disease. The number of dental ‘sites’ of concern in women with bacterial vaginosis was significantly higher than women without BV. As the number of dental sites increased, so did the risk of having bacterial vaginosis.

The greater number of dental sites was significantly associated with higher Mobiluncus and G. vaginalis or Bacteroides, but not Lactobacillus. The greater the number of dental sites present, the greater the chance of having odour using the whiff test was (fishy odour), typical BV discharge, clue cells, a high vaginal pH (>4.5) and Trichomonas vaginalis.

     Study #3 – Significance of bacterial vaginosis and periodontal infection as Predictors of preterm labor, Gupta Pratiksha; Aggarwal Neha; Huria Anju; Lehl Gurvinder. Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science; Dhaka Vol. 15, Iss. 3, (2016): 441-449.

This study looked into the relationship between BV and periodontal infection in 500 pregnant women, to see what the relationship may be between preterm birth and periodontal disease. The women were divided into four groups of 50 women.

  1. Group 1 was the control and did not have BV or periodontal infection
  2. Group 2 tested positive for periodontal infection but not BV
  3. Group 2 tested positive for BV
  4. Group 4 tested positive for both BV and periodontal infection

The results showed that both BV and periodontal infection separately correlated to preterm labour and premature rupture of membranes, and was considered statistically significant.

     Study #4 – Association between periodontal disease, bacterial vaginosis, and sexual risk behaviours. Zabor EC, Klebanoff M, Yu K, Zhang J, Nansel T, Andrews W, Schwebke J, Jeffcoat M. J Clin Periodontol 2010; 37: 888–893. doi: 10.1111/j.1600‐051X.2010.01593.x.

This study looked at the association between periodontal disease and bacterial vaginosis, using data from over 3,500 women. Twenty-eight per cent of women with BV had periodontal disease, compared to 22 per cent who did not have periodontal disease. This equates to a 1.29 per cent greater chance of periodontal disease in women with BV.

Women giving oral sex to men who were uncircumcised was associated with a 1.28 greater risk of periodontal disease amongst women with bacterial vaginosis, than women giving oral sex to men who were circumcised, though this was not considered statistically significant.

     How do I clean the bacteria and biofilms out of my mouth?

If you or someone you are kissing or giving/receiving oral sex to or from has been in contact with or has BV, you’ll need to do a mouth cleaning program along with the vaginal and penile Killing BV treatments, which is detailed in the Killing BV Support Sections for men and women.