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A recent study found that men in their 30s who had severe periodontal disease were more than three times as likely to suffer from erection problems than were those with healthy gums.
The study showed that 53 percent of those with erectile dysfunction — problems getting or maintaining an erection — had inflamed gums, as compared with 23 percent of those without signs of gum disease.
The potential link between dental problems and sexual performance is vascular health.
Erections are created when the brain senses sexual stimulation, causing the muscles in the penis to relax and increasing blood flow into the organ’s spongy tissue. The veins are then shut off to keep blood from flowing out of the area.
The study was based on the premise that because gum disease can reduce the elasticity of the endothelial lining of blood vessels, it may also be linked to erectile dysfunction.
“We know that periodontal diseases cause systemic endothelial dysfunction, which leads to vascular pathology,” said lead study author Dr. Fatih Oguz, an assistant professor in the department of urology in the School of Medicine at Inonu University in Malatya, Turkey.
“And vascular pathologies are the most common cause of erectile dysfunction.”
Previous studies have shown a correlation between chronic periodontitis — gum disease — and systemic vascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and premature births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, advanced gum disease affects 4 percent to 12 percent of adults in the United States.