Dental health and sex - the hard facts about a high-sugar diet

Did you know that men with diabetes are much more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction(ED)? And, in cases of type 2 diabetes, this is preventable. Certainly food for thought when you next grab that pain au chocolat and a chai latte on your way into work.

According to statistics by experts at www.diabetes.co.uk, up to 75% of men suffering with diabetes will experience some degree of ED in their lifetime.

It's World Health Day on Thursday (7 April) - a global awareness campaign run by the World Health Organization and, this year, its aim is to draw attention to the massive rise in cases of diabetes.

Figures currently stand at 350 million people with the disease worldwide - and forecasters predict this is likely to more than double in the next 20 years.

World Health Day takes a good look at how we can all turn the tide on these mounting figures by eating more healthily and looking after our own wellbeing - an important part of which is taking care of your teeth and gums too.

A healthy lifestyle and healthy eating - that include leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and nuts, for example - can prevent up to 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes. Conversely, too much sugar can exacerbate the body's issues with blood glucose and can lead to obesity - often a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

But as scientists reveal more and more evidence linking the condition of our mouths to our overall wellbeing, a healthy diet is looking more and more attractive - as is that all-important commitment to a regular dental health regime. As James Goolnik, of Bow Lane Dental, suggests: 'Adding dental checks should be part of your annual grooming regime. It could save your relationship!'

When in our 20s and at the peak of our physical fitness, it's not always easy to see how our diet might have a negative impact on our long-term health. But, be warned, clichéd as it may sound, we are what we eat and, any overindulgence in sugary drinks and food can store up problems for us later in life.

In the short term, aside from the negative impact it has on our dental health, a sugary diet can lead to lethargy, which can - as we know - have a massive impact on a bloke's sex drive, especially after a long day in the office.

Sugar can also appear in many guises and in the most unexpected of places - a pint of cider en route home or a glass or two of your favourite spirit with a mixer, and your sugar intake could skyrocket without you realising.

And if that hasn't swayed you - scientists have also discovered that, even men without diabetes are more likely to suffer with ED if they have poor oral health. Men with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to experience it. Put simply, bacteria can build up and enter the bloodstream, eventually impairing the blood flow to the penis. So, by simply brushing up on your dental care regime, you can halve the risk of impotence.

And should you already have diabetes, a healthy diet is also the key to successful management of the disease and reduces the risk of further health complications, including gum disease and even tooth loss.

Statistics show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop gingivitis - the early stage of gum disease that causes inflammation of gums, irritation, redness and swelling.

Untreated, this can turn into periodontitis, a much more severe form of gum disease that often causes shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth.

In fact, the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way thing, with those with diabetes more susceptible to gum disease - and gum disease affecting blood sugar levels, too.

So, gentlemen (and partners) you neglect the health of your mouth at your peril. Goolnik adds: "Remember, an oral examination reveals a lot more than just teeth and gums and we are always happy to talk through any lifestyle changes you may need to make to lower the risk of diabetes - such as dietary habits, smoking frequency and alcohol intake."