Erectile Dysfunction and Dental Disease

Erectile Dysfunction and Gum Disease

June 17, 2021

Originally published May 2018. Updated June 2021.

Yep. We’re talking about erectile dysfunction (ED) on a dental blog. The reason? June is Men’s Health Month and it’s time to shed some light on how poor dental care among men can have health impacts that go beyond a simple toothache.

You see, less than 50 percent of men brush twice a day, and when it comes to flossing, the numbers are even more alarming – one study reports that men 26% less likely to floss on a daily basis than women!

Men are also less likely to seek preventive dental care until and this lack of attention to their smiles can lead to gum disease, a chronic inflammatory infection of the gum tissue.

Kyle Dosch, DDS and our dental director, notes: “Current research suggests chronic inflammation in the mouth may link periodontal disease with an increased risk for developing a variety of systemic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and impotence.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that poor dental hygiene is the cause of ED. But rather, oral health problems that arise from poor dental hygiene are often the first signs of an underlying problem that can lead to erectile dysfunction.

More research needs to be done to better understand the link between erectile dysfunction and dental disease. But here’s what we know so far.

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Does Gum Disease Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

The short answer? No. However, evidence suggests that gum disease may be considered a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Here’s why:

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men in their 30s who had severe periodontal disease were 3x more likely to suffer from problems related to sexual arousal. The cause is thought to be related to inflammation.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory infection of the gums. It’s been linked to a host of other diseases, most notable to an increased risk of heart disease as inflammation of the arteries occurs in all stages of heart disease. And as it turns out, heart disease is one of the contributing causes of erectile dysfunction.

The Dysfunction is in the Details

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, consider this 2015 study conducted in Taiwan. Researchers determined that men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction were almost 80% more likely to have been diagnosed with chronic periodontal disease than men without erectile dysfunction.

This is because the chronic inflammation caused by gum disease can damage your endothelial cells, which form the lining your blood vessels (including the blood vessels in your penis). When these cells are damaged, it can result in impaired blood flow throughout the body, leading to erectile dysfunction.

How Good Oral Hygiene Can Improve Erectile Dysfunction

Good news, fellas! While poor oral hygiene may be linked to erectile dysfunction, a diligent oral care routine may actually improve symptoms of erectile function.

One study in Turkey reviewed 120 patients who were suffering from both moderate to severe erectile dysfunction and chronic periodontitis. Half of the patients received treatment for their gum disease, while the other half did not. A follow up questionnaire revealed that patients who received treatment for their gum disease reported that of the severity of their erectile dysfunction lessened after just three months.

Studies in India and Israel have reached the same conclusion, leading to speculation that, at the very least, gum disease and the cause of erectile dysfunction are linked.

So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, you may want to schedule a dentist appointment to check for gum disease. And while it may require a few appointments over time to get it in check, the results are definitely worth it.

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