Oral Health Linked to Erectile Dysfunction Risk

Oral health as it relates to women’s health is a much talked about topic, but did you know that oral health can have a significant effect on men’s health too? Periodontal disease has been linked to several serious health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and dementia, and because men are statistically more susceptible to oral disease, it’s an important issue to be aware of. According to new study though, there’s another reason why men might want to take better care of their teeth and gums. A recent Fox News article reported that new research has found that erectile dysfunction is more common in men with gum disease. Do I have your attention now, guys?

Periodontitis, or a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, is quite common and a significant cause of tooth loss in adults. The condition is linked to a higher risk of general inflammation, which can cause a slew of issues, including hardening of the arteries, stroke and cardiovascular disease. And because stroke and hardening of the arteries are associated with erectile dysfunction (ED), it’s easy to understand how they’re all related.

“In our opinion, the actual biological mechanism of ED in periodontitis patients remains poorly understood,” said Dr. Zhigang Zhao of The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University in China, and senior author on the study. He added, “it might still be too early to suggest that men with ED should have their teeth checked; and that men with chronic periodontitis should worry about their sexual function. However, it might be beneficial to inform patients with chronic periodontitis about its association with ED.”

For the review, scientists analyzed data from five previous studies, published between 2009 and 2014. In total, they covered 213,000 participants ages 20-80. Each study found that ED was more common among men who were being treated for chronic periodontitis, especially for those younger than 40 and older than 59. Researchers accounted for diabetes, which is a risk factor for both gum disease and sexual function, and still found that erectile dysfunction was 2.28 times more common for men with periodontitis than for those without.

“Since chronic periodontitis had been linked with several chronic disorders, it is sensible to recommend daily inter-dental cleaning to reduce dental plaque and gingival inflammation,” Zhao added. “Chronic periodontitis treatment can control or eliminate inflammation and may reduce the risk of ED.”

The review identified several limitations, like the fact that ED and chronic periodontitis share many similar risk factors, such as aging, smoking, diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease. Many of the studies included in the review did account for diabetes, but failed to account for smoking and/or alcohol consumption, both of which can also cause oral health and sexual function issues. But even with the limitations, a possible link between oral health and sexual function has been identified. Do you really need another reason to brush twice a day, floss regularly and visit your dentist bi-annually? I didn’t think so.

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