Home Lifestyle Gum disease can wreak havoc on your sexual health

Gum disease can wreak havoc on your sexual health

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Gum disease could impact your sexual health if left untreated (Picture: Getty Images)

Let’s face it, gum disease doesn’t leave anyone feeling fresh, and with more than one billion cases worldwide it’s pretty common.

In fact, it affects most adults in the UK at some point in their lives, totalling to 19% of the global population. But while it can be tempting to keep brushing gum disease under the rug, left unresolved it can wreak havoc on not only your oral health, but your sexual health too…

Gum disease itself is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth, with symptoms including red, swollen and sore gums, as well as bleeding.

As Abbas Kanani, superintendent pharmacist of Chemist Click explains, it’s been linked to a whole host of other issues too.

‘The build-up irritates your gums and can lead to bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth, your gums shrinking or your teeth becoming loose or falling out,’ he tells Metro.co.uk:.

‘Poor oral hygiene can result in mouth issues such as plaque build-up, mouth sores, gingivitis, halitosis and eventually loss of teeth, but is also associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease which can trigger problems with sexual health.’

These are the specific sexual health issues you may be shocked to learn can be triggered by gum disease.

Gum disease shows a correlation in patients who also have erectile dysfunction (Picture: Getty Images)

Gum disease and erectile dysfunction

If gum disease is left untreated, there’s a chance it could lead to erectile dysfunction.

Abbas explains: ‘Gum disease can lead to deep infections causing a loss of tissue and bone, which can also bring about chronic inflammation that damages your endothelial cells.

‘This forms the lining blood vessels, which includes the blood vessels in the penis. 

‘When these cells are damaged, it can result in impaired blood flow throughout the body, leading to erectile dysfunction.’

Erectile dysfunction is increasingly common, particular in older men, with cases projected to rise to 322 million by 2025.  

Several studies have found a positive association between erectile dysfunction, and chronic gum disease, which is also known as periodontitis.  

One set of findings showed 53% of male patients who had ED had chronic gum disease too, compared to the 23% of men with erectile dysfunction who did not exhibit periodontal problems. 

While the results don’t mean gum disease causes ED, they do show that men who have been diagnosed with gum disease tend to have ED more often than men without gum disease.  

Abbas adds: ‘Periodontal disease is classified as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease raises risk for ED – which supports the link that periodontal disease may raise the risk of ED.’

If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, you can consult your GP to check for underlying health conditions and treatment options.

Gum disease and oral sex

Gum disease can result in the spread of harmful bacteria in the mouth which, as you’ve probably guessed, can be spread through kissing or oral sex.

‘Bacteria such as porphyromonas gingivalis and treponema denticolacan can be transmitted to a partner, particularly if they have open cuts or sores in their mouth,’ says Abbas.

‘Bacteria and toxins can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gum tissue.’

People may unknowingly increase the risk of their partner developing oral health issues or infections by kissing them or through oral sex. This can even contribute to the development of systemic health problems if the bacteria enter the bloodstream.

If you’re self conscious about your teeth it’s going to affect your intimate life (Picture: Getty Images)

Gum disease and sexual discomfort

Gum issues typically cause pain, discomfort or bleeding in the mouth, which can make kissing or other forms of physical intimacy, such as oral sex, uncomfortable.

‘You shouldn’t feel discomfort when kissing or giving oral sex and may avoid sexual contact because of it,’ Abbas explains.

‘Feeling self-conscious about your smile or breath can lead to ongoing issues with intimacy with a partner. Tooth loss or gum recession can have a profound affect on a person’s self-esteem and confidence.’

Gum disease can affect physical appearance and daily activities, potentially leading to negative self-perception and a decline in self-esteem, which Abbas says can make it ‘hard to enjoy sexual activity’.

Ultimately, addressing the underlying cause will help to improve your sexual experiences and improve your self-esteem over time.

How to avoid gum disease

It goes without saying that a regular trip to the dentist is a must to keep those pearly whites in good condition.

You should be going every year to 24 months, but if you’ve had dental issues this should be more frequent.

Abbas shares that brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about two minutes each time will help keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Also consider rinsing with mouthwash after a meal, rather than after brushing (which can erode the tooth’s enamel).

Don’t forget to floss or use an interdental brush every day too, and replace your toothbrush at least every three months.

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