What His Teeth Say About His Penis

This article was written Danielle Austin and provided by our partners at Men’s Health.

If your guy is skimping on good-brushing habits, it might leave him with a rotten mouth—and a deflated penis. Poor dental hygiene may hamper his ability to get hard, finds new preliminary research from Taiwan. 

In the study, men with erectile dysfunction (ED) were 79 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with chronic periodontal disease (CPD) than guys without ED. CPD is an infection that occurs when the gums pull away from the teeth, creating deep pockets that harbor bacteria and allow the bugs to spread to the bone surrounding the teeth. (It’s not just bad brushing—his other habits might be sinking his stiffy, too. Find out the eight ways a dude can protect his erection.)

Chronic inflammation caused by gum disease may damage a guy’s endothelial cells, which form the lining on all of the blood vessels—including those in his penis. The endothelial damage can result in impaired blood flow, leaving him limp in the sack, says Larry Lipshultz, M.D., a urology advisor for Men’s Health. (Because the blood vessels to the penis are about 25 percent the size of the ones to the coronaries, ED can often serve as an early warning sign for heart problems and vascular disease. So if your guy is experiencing ED, be sure to have him consult his doctor to make sure his member isn’t the only malfunction.) 

The researchers suggest tooth extraction may help reduce the ED by eliminating the inflammation. But thankfully, that’s a last resort here in the U.S. 

Instead, if the disease is caught in the early stages, treatment can be as simple as a few deep cleanings from a dentist.  If it’s discovered later on, gum surgery to reduce the pockets and restore some of the bone loss may be necessary, says Sally J. Cram, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA).  

Once a man has the disease under control, she suggests scheduling more frequent cleanings—every three months rather than six months. (Regular appointments are also important because dentists can spot these six serious health problems.)

People who have had periodontal disease in the past are more likely to get it again, so it’s important that he take precautionary measures and monitor for symptoms. 

“Most people who have the disease don’t feel pain until it is in the advanced stages so be sure to see your dentist if you experience red swollen gums, bleeding gums when brushing, bad breath, loose teeth, and receding gums,” says Cram. 

The good thing, though, is that periodontal disease is almost entirely preventable. Just make sure your guy is brushing for two minutes twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste—look for an ADA Seal of Acceptance for best results—have him floss once per day, and make sure he drags himself to the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, says Cram.