Researchers from Taiwan have found an association between chronic periodontitis – a severe form of gum disease – and erectile dysfunction (ED).
They also found the link to be stronger in men under age 30 and over age 70.
Periodontitis stems from gingivitis, a gum infection, that goes untreated or isn’t treated quickly enough. The inflammation and infection spreads to the bones and ligaments that support the teeth. Once these structures are weakened, the teeth can loosen and fall out.
The researchers, from the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City and the Herng-Ching Lin School of Health Care Administration at Taipei Medical University, conducted a nationwide, population-based retrospective case-control study. Participants included 32,856 men with ED and 162,480 randomly-chosen patients without ED that served as a comparison group.
Of all the participants, 12% of the men had periodontitis. This group included about 27% of the men with ED and 9% of the men without ED.
The researchers adjusted for monthly income, age, geographic location, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, coronary heart disease, obesity, and alcohol abuse/alcohol dependence syndrome. Even after these adjustments, the men with ED were still more likely to have chronic periodontitis than the men in the comparison group. Men under age 30 and over age 70 were most affected.
The study did not show that periodontitis causes ED. It just found an association between ED and a previous diagnosis of chronic periodontitis.
“Understanding all aspects of how and why a health condition occurs is vital to prevention and treatment goals,” said Dr. Tobias Kohler of the American Urological Association Public Media Committee in a press release. “This new study demonstrates how seemingly unrelated conditions can in fact be connected, underscoring the need for further research and education.”
It’s important to note that this study was based on insurance and registry data, not validated questionnaires. Therefore, its conclusions should be interpreted with caution.
The study results were presented during a poster session at the 107th Annual Scientific meeting of the American Urological Association held in May in Atlanta. They were also published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
American Urological Association via Uro Today
“AUA 2012 – New study suggests link between periodontitis and erectile dysfunction”
(Press release. May 21, 2012)
“Severe Gum Disease, Impotence May Be Linked”
(May 21, 2012)
Journal of Clinical Periodontology
Keller, Joseph J., et al.
“A nationwide population-based study on the association between chronic periodontitis and erectile dysfunction”
(Abstract. First published online: April 17, 2012)
“Gum Disease and Impotence are Strange Bedfellows”
(May 21, 2012)
(Last reviewed: February, 22, 2012)