Studies show that problems with gum disease and tooth decay can sometimes cause or worsen health problems elsewhere in the body, including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Research suggests that men may also need to worry about a more serious complication arising from poor dental hygiene that could seriously interfere with your relationship. Learn more about the link between good dental hygiene and erectile dysfunction, and find out how your teeth and gums could affect your sex life.
The problem of erectile dysfunction
Experts believe that erectile dysfunction could affect around 30 million men in the United States. What's more, where doctors once normally only associated this condition with older men, new evidence suggests that one in four men seeking treatment is under 40.
The risk of erectile dysfunction increases as you age, but some minority groups (such as Hispanic men) are also more likely to suffer with the problem. Causes can include:
- Underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease or multiple sclerosis
- Psychological factors like stress or anxiety
- Some everyday habits like smoking or drug taking
Some medications can also cause the problem. Symptoms are often temporary, but you may need medication, counseling or surgery to deal with permanent issues.
The link between clean teeth and erectile dysfunction
A study by the University of Turkey looked at 160 men in their thirties. Half the study group had a problem with erectile dysfunction, while the other half did not. Researchers then examined the teeth and gums of everybody in the study group.
The researchers found that 53 percent of the men with erectile dysfunction also had inflamed gums. In the healthy control group, only 23 percent of the men saw the same symptoms. Researchers adjusted the sample to consider the participants' ages, income and education level, but the study still concluded that the men with inflamed gums were three times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.
So what's the link?
To achieve (and maintain) an erection, men rely on a special enzyme called eNOS. Release of another enzyme (nNOS) leads to a quick release of nitric oxide in the nerve endings in a man's penis, triggering an erection. The increased blood flow in the penis then actives the eNOS enzyme in the man's blood, allowing the body to produce more nitric oxide.
If the body doesn't release the eNOS enzyme, the smooth muscle in the penis can relax. While there is no conclusive evidence of the link between eNOS and gum disease, some researchers believe that poor dental hygiene can inhibit the body's ability to produce eNOS – leading to problems with an erection.
Other issues to consider
Many people suffer from erectile dysfunction through stress or problems with self-esteem. Low confidence levels can make it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection during sex. Unfortunately, for many men, the problem becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. These men worry they may not get an erection, and the anxiety interferes with their ability to get an erection. This is often a difficult cycle to break.
You should never underestimate how good dental hygiene can boost your self-esteem and confidence. Gum disease or tooth decay can both increase the risk of bad breath, which is hardly conducive to intimacy. What's more, if you already lack self-confidence, any comment from a partner that your breath smells is likely to make the matter worse.
Experts believe that half the American population suffers with bad breath. Regular brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to keep halitosis at bay. What's more, fresh breath and a good smile are likely to give you the confidence you need to enjoy a healthy sex life.
Good dental hygiene will cut the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, but research suggests that these habits can help you avoid other health problems. If you're concerned about the possible link between your teeth and erectile dysfunction, talk to your dentist or go to a place like Schererville Family Dentistry, PC about ways to give you a confidence-boosting smile.