Severe gum disease in men more than doubles their risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction, according to a new study. In the study more than half (53 per cent) of men had severe gum disease in the group with erectile dysfunction, compared to fewer than one in four (23 per cent) without.
The results, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine1, also revealed men between 30-40 years old are most likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction if they have severe gum disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health2, erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is defined as the inability to attain and or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. It is a condition that affects one in ten men worldwide, and is more commonly experienced after the age of 40.
When people suffer from gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream, so it should therefore come as no surprise that this piece of research has linked vascular erectile dysfunction, another cardiac-related condition, with gum disease.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, hopes the increasing liberal attitudes towards sexual health problems will prompt men across the country to take steps and lower their risk.
Dr Carter said: “Sexual health problems, particularly for men, are no laughing matter. The link may seem frivolous, but the research clearly points to severe gum disease as a possible cause of erectile dysfunction.
“Not only does oral health become a problem, self-confidence, esteem and relationships could suffer too. To avoid it even becoming an issue, there are a number of things you can do to stop gum disease from developing.
“Removing food stuck in between your teeth close to gum lines is a really important step to preventing gum disease. Using interdental brushes or flossing is the best way of doing this. Brushing alone only cleans 60 per cent of the tooth’s surface, so this is an excellent way of keeping plaque – the cause of gum disease – at bay.
“Regular visits to the dentist will also give your dentist the best possible opportunity to monitor your oral health. If they feel it is deteriorating and plaque is building up, a simple scale and polish can put you on the right track, provided you keep up a good routine at home.
“The first sign of gum disease is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant. If you notice any of these over a period of time, it may be worth booking an appointment to see the dentist.”
1. Oğuz, F., Eltas, A., Beytur, A., Akdemir, E., Uslu, M. Ö. and Güneş, A. (2013), Is There a Relationship Between Chronic Periodontitis and Erectile Dysfunction?. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10: 838-843. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02974.x
2. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Impotence. Impotence. JAMA 1993; 270: 83-90.