It’s no secret that men are less likely than women to seek preventative medical care, and unfortunately this holds true for dental care as well. According to one study published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2011, men were nearly half as likely as women to have visited a dentist for routine care in the prior year. While oral health is important for everyone – men, women, and children (even babies) – men have certain risk factors that make it even more essential for them to maintain tooth health and get regular dental care.
Oral Health Complications in Men
By age 72, men will have lost an average of more than five teeth. Men also suffer from higher rates of gum disease and oral cancers. This is thought to be in part due to their higher rate of alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Regardless of the reason, it is a cause for concern when paired with the lower frequency of check-ups and cleanings.
There is an even more alarming connection for men between general health and oral hygiene, and it’s two-fold. Men are generally thought to be more susceptible to heart disease, and researchers have identified links between gum disease and cardiovascular health. In addition, men who are on heart medications may be prone to dry mouth as a side effect of these drugs, which can increase the risk of gum health problems.
Another risk factor for men’s oral health is contact sports. Men are more likely to play fairly rough physical sports like football and basketball, which can result in broken or knocked out teeth or other mouth injuries. It’s important to wear a protective mouthguard to buffer potential damage to teeth. Helmets can also offer added mouth protection when riding bikes or motorcycles.
What Can You Do?
There are many ways to decrease your risk of periodontal disease as well as tooth loss as you age:
• Brush at least twice daily with a soft brush and fluoridated toothpaste. Women are nearly 50% more likely to brush after each meal than men, which means men are at a disadvantage before even counting any of the other factors.
• Floss at least once daily. Cleaning between teeth is a simple and effective way to lower the risk of gum disease.
• If you don’t have a dentist, get one (if you are in the Sydney area, Quay Dental can assist you with all of your oral health needs). Research has shown that only 74% of men report having a regular dental care provider, compared to 89% of women.
• Visit the dentist at least once a year. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only 41% of men visit the dentist frequently enough, compared to 50% of women.
• Monitor your gums for any changes – redness, tenderness, receding gum-line, anything out of the ordinary. Report anything suspicious to your dentist. Delaying treatment for gingivitis can result in severe oral health issues that require extensive treatment.
Oral health isn’t just gum deep, especially for men. By the time you notice a problem, it could be too late and you could not only lose teeth, but your heart health could be impacted as well, complicating the problem further. By brushing, flossing, and getting regular cleanings and check-ups from a qualified provider like the specialists at Quay Dental, men can enjoy not only a healthy mouth but potentially even a longer life.