Can gum disease prevent erections?

The bacterial plaque accumulated in your teeth is harmless and unnoticeable – until it isn’t. When it becomes hardened, the plaque enters the space underneath your gums and causes inflammation. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is sometimes associated with erectile dysfunction.

Not many people with erectile dysfunction seek assistance from a dentist, which is perfectly understandable. The problem should be first assessed by a general practitioner, for instance. The effects of oral health should never be ruled out, however.

“I would definitely recommend people with erectile dysfunction to visit a dentist. It is an integral part of the comprehensive treatment of the problem,” says Erkki Virta, a dentist and Senior Advisor of Oral Health at Mehiläinen.

Several studies show a link between erectile dysfunction and periodontitis. Although periodontitis may not be a familiar term to many, it is a very common condition that may not even show any symptoms. Approximately half of people in Finland over 30 have periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a dangerous disease that starts with little symptoms. If you do not clean the bacterial plaque between and on the surfaces of your teeth carefully, your gums can become inflamed. A common gingivitis develops into a periodontitis slowly. The bacterial plaque destroys the connective tissue fibres underneath the gums. At its worst, periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose.


Surprising link: periodontitis and erectile dysfunction

Studies show that people with periodontitis are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. According to current knowledge, it cannot be said that erectile dysfunction is unequivocally caused by periodontitis. Both conditions are linked with the same risk factors, including smoking, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

However, a study conducted by a Turkish university showed that treating periodontitis also helped with problems with erection.

Erkki Virta considers the link between periodontitis and erectile dysfunction logical: when the bacteria and pathogens enter the circulatory system from the mouth, they start a low-grade inflammation in the body. Consequently, the walls of the blood vessels collect plaque that can cause a stenosis.

“The heart is at the most risk due to plaque accumulation, but it is also harmful to erections. If the vessels are blocked, blood cannot enter the penis to make it larger,” Virta explains.


Talk about erection with your dentist

More studies about the relationship between periodontitis and erectile dysfunction are required. Erectile dysfunction is often caused by more than one issue. That is why it is recommended to include an examination performed by a dentist in the treatment options.

Although many feel the subject to be sensitive, erectile dysfunction should be brought up when visiting a dentist.

“Problems with erection are not easy to talk about and not many consider them to be related to oral health. It would be wonderful to improve general awareness of the risks of periodontitis,” says Virta.


Oral health is part of sexual health

1. Self-esteem

Oral wellbeing has an impact of all aspects of life: talking, eating and social interaction. Good oral health boosts your self-esteem and, most likely, your sexual confidence.

2. Bacteria, viruses and fungi

Various types of bacteria and viruses enter your mouth from your partner’s mouth or genital area during kissing and sex. The healthier your mouth is, the better the bacterial flora can eliminate any harmful bacteria or fungi. Of course, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases is always present, so remember to pay attention to contraception.

3. Fertility and pregnancy

Oral health is especially important in terms of reproductive health. Periodontitis can make it harder to become pregnant and increase the risk of premature birth. A study also shows that periodontitis is associated with poor motility of sperm.

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Sources:

Periodontal status of males attending an in vitro fertilization clinic 

Treating Gum Disease May Treat Erectile Dysfunction 

Exploration of the Association Between Chronic Periodontal Disease and Erectile Dysfunction From a Population-Based View Point