Find any list of qualities to cultivate for sex appeal, and you’ll find it includes an attractive smile. People consistently rate it as the most captivating physical feature – more than eyes, hair or even physique.
Just because a smile looks good, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. And according to a new study, a particular kind of unhealthy one could be putting a damper on your sex life.
For a while now, we’ve known about the links between periodontal disease and inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. All those are known to be physical causes of erectile dysfunction, and there appears to be a relationship between ED and gum disease, as well.
According to Wiley’s press release on research just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine,
Turkish researchers 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, 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.
Smokers, older men and those with systemic illness were excluded from the study, as all are already at elevated risk for both ED and periodontal disease.
As ever, correlation doesn’t equal causation; it only shows that two things occur together. It’s where things stand with the gum disease/heart disease link, as well. We know that they’re often present together; that oral bacteria are often found in the heart; that improving gum health may improve heart health. If you’ve been diagnosed with one condition, it’s worthwhile to get the other checked and do what you can to improve your health.
The good news with gum disease is that, unless severe or advanced, it’s usually reversible through a combination of improved home care and diet, frequent professional cleanings and sometimes surgery. Granted, it takes a time and money, but it’s certainly cheaper than replacing the teeth you’re sure to lose if gum disease goes unchecked.
Consider the results of a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Periodontology. Its authors found that those who had only baseline treatment could replace just 3 teeth with bridgework – or 2 with implants – before they’d be spending more than for a lifetime of perio care.
Those who had no treatment at all could buy 4.
Image by practicalowl, via Flickr