According to the latest research by the American Dental Association, only 16% of Americans floss at least once a day. Over half of those surveyed said that the biggest reason for not is because it’s too time consuming. But the consequences of not flossing daily are serious. Just how serious? Try erectile dysfunction.
It doesn’t matter how vigorous or thorough you are about your brushing, you’re still missing a good portion of your teeth’s surface area. The bacteria that lingers in an un-flossed mouth can start working its way into the gums—causing inflammation, infection and early-onset gum disease. And men in their 30s who develop gum disease are three times more likely to struggle maintaining their erections, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
And while stress, poor eating habits and smoking have been shown to contribute to problematic erections, better dental hygiene has also been proven to help. A 2017 study found that when men who had moderate to severe erectile dysfunction and gum disease received periodontal treatment for their inflamed gums, it took just three months for their erections to improve.
How? Well, it’s important to understand that bacteria doesn’t simply stay in your mouth. The inflammation caused by plaque buildup damages the lining of blood vessels. This becomes problematic when you become aroused—when a man’s blood vessels naturally widen to increase blood flow to important parts of his body. Namely, the penis. If your blood vessels aren’t healthy, the blood flow is decreased and thus your erections will be undoubtedly weaker and less consistent.
After all, heart health is often associated with flossing and gum health. And a healthy, strong boner is nothing if not an extension of cardiovascular vitality. So make sure that you’re thoroughly brushing morning and night and capping off your night with a pre-brush floss and a post-brush rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash. Your significant other (and your blood vessels) will thank you.