Can chronic periodontitis cause Erectile dysfunction?

Several researchers from different countries have tried to explore the relationship between chronic periodontitis and erectile dysfunction. They found that men with chronic periodontitis are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. This does not mean that chronic periodontitis causes erectile dysfunction. It only shows an association between gum disease and erectile dysfunction. That chronic periodontitis could be a risk factor to erectile dysfunction.

Then, how are the two conditions connected?

Several findings are common to both the conditions. These are

  • Systemic inflammation
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Atherosclerosis

Porphyromonas gingivalis is a bacteria that causes periodontitis. The organism and their toxins gain access into the blood circulation. They invade the walls of the blood vessels and lead to inflammation, atherosclerosis and directly affect the endothelial function.

Atherosclerosis causes cardiac disease. Atherosclerosis arises from endothelial dysfunction and inflammation. Endothelial dysfunction is the key factor in causing erectile dysfunction. Atherosclerosis begins first in small blood vessels such as penile vasculature and then progress to larger blood vessels.

Older men can have higher chances of endothelial dysfunction. In ageing men chronic periodontitis is a source of inflammation. Other risk factors include smoking, hypertension and obesity.
Chronic periodontitis (CP)is an inflammatory disease caused by a biofilm called plaque. The bacteria that inhabit this biofilm damage the gums and then the bone. This happens when the condition is not treated. This gum disease is a risk factor for various diseases such as coronary heart disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Globally upto 15% of people suffer from CP. They are in the age group of 35-45 years.

Erectile dysfunction(ED) also known as impotence is a persistent or recurrent inability to have sufficient erection for satisfactory sexual performance. ED is a major problem and affects more than 150 million men worldwide. This is usually experienced at the age of 40 years.

Both diseases are multifactorial and share common risk factors like smoking, diabetes and cardiac diseases.

The exact link between the two diseases is not clear. However, gum disease can lead to problems with cells that line the blood vessels. Blood flow to the penis is an important part of an erection. It’s possible that the problems from gum disease may affect blood vessels in the penis.
As on date a positive link between the two diseases is available. Treating periodontitis can improve endothelial dysfunction. Treatment of the gum disease improves the severity  of erectile dysfunction.

Make sure to visit your dentist regularly, especially if you suffer from these

  • Spontaneous bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Increasing gaps between teeth
  • Bleeding from gums on brushing or applying pressure
  • A dull constant pain in the gums
  • Inability to chew on hard food
  • Loose teeth
  • Yellowish to brownish discolouration of teeth that does not go with brushing