Father’s Day may come and go, but men taking care of their health is a tough, year-round job. Because June is Men’s Health Month, it’s a good time to remind men to take better care of themselves. And because good oral health is directly linked to longevity, the timing is perfect for this reminder: Take better care of your teeth and gums.
Unfortunately, when it comes to maintaining good oral health, men aren’t doing as good a job as women. Men don’t brush or floss as often, and they’re less likely to schedule regular dental exams and teeth cleanings. In fact, according to a survey by the Oral Health Foundation, 62% of men regretted not doing a better job taking care of their teeth earlier in life.
OK, so men are currently proving to be big slackers when it comes to their oral health. And by not taking care of their teeth, they are also putting themselves in harm’s way when it comes to their overall health. The good news? It’s never too late to make a change. With a little oral health awareness, men can improve their oral health and also lower their risk for other health issues.
How Men Put their Oral Health (and Overall Health) at Risk
- Not Seeing a Dentist Regularly – Recent studies show that women are twice as likely to schedule (and maintain) their regular dental exams, as well as to follow through on any recommended treatment following those checkups. Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and often neglect their oral health for years, visiting a dentist only when a problem arises. What to do? That’s easy. Men, stay on top of your annual exams and teeth cleanings. It might not be the funniest thing you do every year, but it’ll provide dividends to keep your teeth healthy and clean, and lower the need for more serious (and costly) dental work down the road.
- Getting Gum Disease – Studies show a connection between gum disease and heart disease, which can place men at a greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. Be aware of these signs – bleeding gums when you brush, red, tender, or swollen gums, persistent bad breath, lose or separating teeth. If any of these symptoms are noticed, please let your dentist know. BTW – women are 26% more likely than men to floss. And when it comes to brushing, women brush their teeth more often, and are more likely to brush their teeth at bedtime. Make daily oral hygiene a habit. Brushing and flossing twice a day can make a difference in your fight against gum disease –> Here’s how to avoid gum disease.
- Having Dry Mouth from Medications – Men are more likely than women to suffer heart attacks, so that usually requires them to take medications for their heart or blood pressure. These medications can cause dry mouth. They reduce the saliva flow within the mouth, causing a “dry mouth” affect. This makes men more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. Why? Because saliva helps wash away cavity causing bacteria that linger in your mouth. Luckily, there are things you can do to help build saliva, as well as ways your dentist can help reduce dry mouth –> Here’s some helpful info on Dry Mouth.
- Not Screening for Oral Cancer – Recent studies show that men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer. For men between the ages of 45 to 59, oral cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer. The good news is your dentist will screen for it, and early detection improves survival rates. During your dental exam, we’ll look for any signs of cancer, and we can also provide a more thorough screening using the non-invasive VELscope treatment. When it’s diagnosed early, the survival rate for patients with oral cancer is over 80%. If you’re a male between the higher risk ages, be sure to add an oral cancer screening into your annual dental exams –> Here’s how we can lower your risk of oral cancer.
- Not Preventing Tooth Loss – The average man will lose about 5 teeth by the time he reaches 72. And if he smokes, that number goes up to 12. And if you play sports, and don’t wear a mouth guard, that number could go up. Losing teeth is not conducive to longevity, especially if it dictates the types of foods you can eat because of your ability to chew food. It’s also costly to replace missing teeth, and not really aesthetically pleasing. What to do? Maintain good oral hygiene (flossing & brushing), don’t miss your dental appointments, and wear a sports mouth guard when you’re out there recreating. Friendly Dental Tip: Don’t use your mouth to open things. Here’s how to floss & brush your teeth like a pro!
Hopefully with a little more oral health awareness, more men can start canceling out these risks. If it’s been a while since your last dental exam and teeth cleaning, there’s no time like the present to schedule an appointment. Just call us at (206) 242-0066 or contact us online. We’ll do our best to keep help you stay health, and smiling, for many years to come!
Healthy teeth, healthy life.