Researchers in Taiwan suggest that men who have periodontitis – a severe form of gum disease – are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) than those who do not.

This does not mean that gum disease causes ED. It just means that there is an association: men who have been diagnosed with gum disease tend to have more ED than those who do not.

Researchers found that the association is stronger in men under 30 and over 70.

Other researchers in Turkey investigated the link between chronic periodontitis and erectile dysfunction in men aged 30 to 40. In their study, 53% of men with ED also had chronic periodontitis. In the comparison group of men without ED, only 23% had gum disease. After taking into account age, body mass index, family income and education level, the Turkish researchers concluded that men with gum disease were more than 3 times more likely to suffer from ED than those without gum disease.

Scientists are not sure why there is a link between gum disease and ED. However, it is known that gum disease can lead to problems with the cells that make up blood vessels.

Since blood circulation to the penis is an important part of erection, it is possible that problems from gum disease can affect the blood vessels in the penis. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis – inflammation or infection of the gums – is left untreated. The infection reaches the structures that hold your false teeth. When this happens, the teeth lose their support and fall out. Common symptoms of periodontitis include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums that are shiny, red or reddish-purple. Sometimes touching the gums causes pain. To prevent periodontitis, men are advised to take care of their oral health. Consistent brushing, flossing and regular check-ups are important.

Because the blood vessels in the penis are about 25% the size of those leading to the coronary arteries, ED can be a red flag for possible heart problems and vascular disease.

Men with erectile dysfunction who received treatment for sore gums said their erections improved within three months.

So, if you experience these symptoms of ED frequently, see your doctor urgently.