Viagra is a common treatment for erectile dysfunction, which half of men will experience between the ages of 40 and 70 (Reuters)

Men with inflamed gums caused by periodontal disease are three times more likely to experience erection problems.

Researchers from the Inonu University in Malatya, Turkey, looked at 80 men between the ages of 30 and 40 who suffer from erectile dysfunction.

They found that 53 per cent of the men had inflamed gums, compared to 23 per cent of the control group - which did not have erection problems.

Lead author Faith Oguz said: "Erectile dysfunction is a major public health problem that affects the quality of life of some 150 million men, and their partners, worldwide.

"Physical factors cause nearly two-thirds of cases, mainly because of problems with the blood vessels, with psychological issues like emotional stress and depression accounting for the remainder.

"Chronic periodontitis (CP) is a group of infectious diseases caused predominantly by bacteria that most commonly occur with inflammation of the gums.

"Many studies have reported that CP may induce systemic vascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, which have been linked with erection problems."

Very common

The men studied had no significant differences in body mass index, income and education.

Their sexual function was assessed with the International Index of Erectile Function, a questionnaire that measures erectile dysfunction. Gum health was measured with a plaque index.

As there are a number of factors involved in erection problems, such as smoking, ageing, diabetes and coronary artery disease, the researchers excluded men who were smokers and those with systemic disease.

Results showed that men with severe periodontal disease are 3.29 times more likely to suffer from erection problems than their healthily gummed counterparts.

Erectile dysfunction is very common and it is estimated that half of men between 40 and 70 will experience it to some degree.

"We particularly selected men aged between 30 and 40 to assess the impact of CP on erectile dysfunction without the results being influenced by the effects of ageing," Oguz said.

"The result of our study supports the theory that CP is present more often in patients with erectile dysfunction than those without and should be considered as a factor by clinicians treating men with erection problems."