Men who regularly brush their teeth – thereby reducing their risk of gum disease – are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than their less hygienic counterparts.
New research has suggested those who suffer from inflamed gums are three times more likely to have trouble getting aroused.
The Turkish scientists who led the study compared 80 men aged 30 to 40 with erectile dysfunction with a control group of 82 men without erection problems.
This showed that 53 per cent of the men with erectile dysfunction had inflamed gums, compared with 23 per cent in the control group.
When the results were adjusted for other factors – such as age, body mass index (BMI), household income and education level – the men with severe periodontal disease were 3.29 times more likely to suffer from erection problems than men with healthy gums.
Lead author Doctor Faith Oguz, of Inonu University in Turkey, said: ‘Erectile dysfunction is a major public health problem that affects the quality of life of some 150 million men, and their partners, worldwide.
‘Physical factors cause nearly two-thirds of cases, mainly because of problems with the blood vessels, with psychological issues like emotional stress and depression accounting for the remainder.
‘Chronic periodontitis, or is a group of infectious diseases caused predominantly by bacteria that most commonly occur with inflammation of the gums.
‘Many studies have reported that chronic periodontitis may induce vascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, which have been linked with erection problems.’
The average age of the men in both groups was just under 36 and there were no significant differences when it came to BMI, household income and education.
Their sexual function was assessed using the International Index of Erectile Function and their gum health using the plaque index, bleeding on probing, probing depth and clinical attachment level.
Dr Oguz said: ‘To our knowledge, erectile dysfunction and chronic periodontitis in humans are caused by similar risk factors, such as ageing, smoking, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
‘We therefore excluded men who had systemic disease and who were smokers from this study.
‘We particularly selected men aged between 30 and 40 to assess the impact of chronic periodontitis on erectile dysfunction without the results being influenced by the effects of ageing.
‘The result of our study support the theory that chronic periodontitis is present more often in patients with erectile dysfunction than those without and should be considered as a factor by clinicians treating men with erection problems.’
The study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.