A recent study has revealed erectile dysfunction can be linked to gum disease.

The research1, carried out on 70 male subjects, showed a correlation between gum disease and the ability to achieve an erection. The data indicates that as the severity of erectile dysfunction increased, so did the prevalence of chronic periodontitis (gum disease). Overall, more than four out of five men (81.8 per cent) with severe erectile dysfunction had gum disease. In comparison, in cases of mild erectile dysfunction, the incidence of gum disease was less than two in five men.

According to the National Institutes of Health2, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to attain and or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. It is a condition that affects one in 10 men worldwide, and is more commonly experienced after the age of 403.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes the stigma attached to the subject could be forcing men up and down the country to turn a blind eye on their oral health.

Dr Carter said: "To associate gum disease, the major preventable cause of tooth loss in adults, with such a taboo subject amongst males is not something that should be taken lightly. If, in theory, four out of five men who suffer from erectile dysfunction have poor oral health, the effect it could have on their general health poses a serious health risk to those individuals affected.

"It is a well-known fact that gum disease has been linked to many conditions in the past that can have a detrimental effect on your general health such as heart disease and diabetes. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream, so it should therefore come as no surprise that this piece of research has linked vascular erectile dysfunction, another cardiac-related condition, with gum disease.

"The best way to combat oral health problems is to think prevention and develop a good routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy at home. By brushing for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, by reducing the frequency of how often you have sugary foods and drinks and by visiting your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend and by interdental brushing, you stand a far greater chance of having good oral health."

For men who experience erectile dysfunction and resulting anxiety, loss of self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, tension and difficulty in the relationship with their partner, the message is simple. Dr Carter said: "As the findings of this study suggests, looking after your gums and oral health in general can reduce this risk and in turn offer better quality of life."


1. Pradeep, A R., Sharma Anuj., and Arjun Raju P. (2011). Association Between Chronic Periodontitis and Vasculogenic Erectile Dysfunction, Journal of Periodontology, 0:0, 1-7.

2. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Impotence. Impotence. JAMA 1993; 270: 83-90.

3. Krane RJ, Goldstein I, Saenz de Tejada I. Impotence. N Engl J Med 1989; 321: 1648-59.

British Dental Health Foundation