Yep. We’re going to talk about erectile dysfunction (ED) on a dental blog. The reason: poor dental care among men can have health impacts far more serious than a toothache.
You see, less than 50 percent of men brush twice a day, and fellas, how often are you really flossing? Men are also less likely to seek preventive dental care until a problem is too painful. Guys, this lack of attention to your smiles often leads to gum disease, a chronic inflammatory infection of 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 mean poor dental hygiene is the cause of ED. But the oral health problems that arise from poor dental hygiene can be the indicators of underlying problems that can be linked to erectile dysfunction.
More research needs to be done to better understand the link between erectile dysfunction and dental disease. But, let’s look at what we know so far.
Periodontal Disease Linked to Erectile Dysfunction
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men in their 30s who had severe periodontal disease were 3 times more likely to suffer from erection problems.1 The association is thought to be related to inflammation.
Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic inflammatory infection. It’s been linked with an increased risk of heart disease. Inflammation of arteries is closely linked to all stages of heart disease. Heart disease has been linked as a contributing cause of erectile dysfunction.
There’s no direct evidence to suggest that gum disease causes ED. However, the evidence suggests that gum disease may be considered a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. So, get flossing, men!
The Dysfunction is in the Details
More information you may want to consider is from a 2015 study in Taiwan. Here, they 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.2
The chronic inflammation that is caused by gum disease may damage your endothelial cells, which form the lining on all of your blood vessels (including the blood vessels in your penis). This damage to your endothelia cells can result in impaired blood flow, leading to erectile dysfunction. Boom – science!
Improving Dental Care Can Lessen Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms
Good news, fellas! This isn’t one-way traffic. While poor oral care may be linked to erectile dysfunction, improved oral care can improve levels of erectile function.
A study in Turkey reviewed 120 patients who were suffering from 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 levels of erectile function improved 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 erectile dysfunction share a common cause.
So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, you may want to schedule a dentist appointment to check for gum disease. Your dentist will help you manage and treat it. It may require a few appointments over time to get it in check, but it’s worth it.
Prevent gum disease by:
- Brushing for 2 minutes, 2 times a day with fluoridated toothpaste
- Flossing at least once a day—it cleans the 40% of your tooth surfaces brushing can’t reach
- Visiting your dentist regularly
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1 Oguz, Faith, et al. “Is There a Relationship Between Chronic Periodontitis and Erectile Dysfunction?” The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2012.
2 Tsao, CW, et al. “Exploration of the association between chronic periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction from a population-based view point.” Andrologia. 2015 Jun;47(5):513-8. doi: 10.1111/and.12294. Epub 2014 May 18.