Brush your teeth, be good in bed


Johannesburg - What do gum disease and erectile dysfunction have in common? A lot more than you think.

The SA Dental Association (Sada) warned on Tuesday that impotence and cardiovascular diseases in some cases has been linked to periodontitis (gum disease) and poor oral hygiene.

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Head of the Wits department of Oral medicine and Periodontology professor Londi Shangase, gives a link between gum disease, erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases during a briefing at Sunnyside park hotel, Johannesburg.
Picture: Itumeleng English

Periodontitis – a progression of gingivitis – is a disease that affects the gums and primarily the bone of the tooth, and is a major cause of tooth loss if untreated.

“Blockage of the smaller arteries in the main parts of the body such as the penis comes about as a result of penile arteries becoming blocked by plaque build-up on the artery walls or a clot (thrombus) lodging in the smaller arteries of the organ having broken away from the plaque build-up in the main arteries of the body,” said Professor Londi Shangase, the head of Wits University’s department of oral medicine and periodontology.

About 52 percent of men aged 40 and above suffer from erectile dysfunction, Shangase explained, adding that the clogging of arteries that supply blood to the penis is one of the reasons for the dysfunction.

“Blood flow makes it possible for a man to be aroused. During arousal, blood vessels become engorged and the penis increases in size and hardens. However, when the arteries are clogged, blood flow diminishes. Men with peripheral artery problems end up with erectile dysfunction.

“The same bacteria causing mouth disease has been picked up in arteries for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and penal dysfunction,” she continued.

Shangase noted that 14.7 percent of deaths in the country were related to cardiovascular diseases.

Maretha Smit, the chief executive of Sada, said: “World Health Organisation statistics indicate that an estimated 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2008. It is estimated that by 2030, almost 23.6 million people will die from the diseases. And it is estimated that gum disease affects an estimated 35 percent of people, young and old, globally.”

So how can one lower one’s chances of suffering from erectile dysfunction or cardiovascular disease?

Shangase advises: “It all starts in the mouth. It is not isolated from the rest of the body. Be preventive in your approach.

“Brush your teeth twice daily and use dental floss once a day – that is key in bringing down periodontal disease and the burden of cardiovascular disease, as well as erectile dysfunction.” - The Star

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