For years, researchers have found that the inflammation caused by the infectious bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Studies have shown that this potent oral bacteria correlates to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers and preterm babies.
With these serious health risks, men, in particular, should be made aware of another. Researchers have given a closer assessment to recent studies and found that erectile dysfunction (a condition causing difficulty having or maintaining an erection) is more common in men with gum disease.
One article published by Reuters.com reveals that reviewers analyzed data from five studies published between 2009 and 2014. The combined studies included 213,000 male participants between the ages of 20 and 80, according to a report in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
In every study, men who had chronic periodontitis (advanced gum disease) were more likely to have erectile dysfunction, especially males younger than 40 and older than 59. The article stated, “After accounting for diabetes, which can influence both gum disease and sexual function, erectile dysfunction was 2.28 times more common for men with periodontitis than for men without it.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-periodontitis-erectile-dysfunc-idUSKBN13K1UP)
In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of males have erectile dysfunction. Men over the age of 70 are more likely to have ED compared to 5 percent between the ages of 20 and 40.
However, the men who are most affected by ED are getting younger. One outpatient clinic showed that one in four men who sought help for erectile dysfunction were under the age of 40.
Could a healthy mouth lower the risk of ED? In a 2013 study, it was found that treating periodontal disease improves ED symptoms. Thus, a growing number of physicians are advising male patients who have both ED and periodontitis to seek periodontal treatment as a way to reduce its risk.
Researchers are learning much about the hazards of chronic inflammation in our bodies. As an inflammatory disease, periodontal disease has come under closer scrutiny as a potential trigger for other serious health problems. For example, nearly half of the men with ED in one study also had diabetes, another chronic inflammatory disease with links to periodontal disease.
Although many serious health problems are linked to oral bacteria, gum disease is one of the most preventable of all. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, a diet limited in sugar and carbohydrates and drinking plenty of water are simple guidelines to follow. Yet, it is estimated that over 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease.
For the good of your overall health and well-being, renew your commitment to a healthy smile. Begin with a thorough examination. We’ll discuss how to get your oral health in good shape and ways to maintain it between dental check-ups.
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