Men are less likely to take care of their health in general than women. Therefore it comes as no surprise that when it comes to oral health, men fare worse than women. While habits and lifestyle are a factor in this, it should also be noted that gender related differences are responsible as well. For example, men are more likely than women to contract certain medical conditions which can also affect oral health, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Men, in particular, should consider the following:
1. How Do You Take Care of Your Teeth At Home?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA) and The American Academy of Periodontology, men are less likely than women to routinely brush their teeth effectively and men are also less likely to floss regularly. As dentists, we recommend brushing at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night to keep cavities and gum disease at bay, but fewer men than women adhere to this.
2. When Was Your Last Checkup?
Men are less likely than women to seek preventive care to maintain their oral health. Having a checkup and cleaning twice a year is recommended to maintain oral health, however, more men than women skip preventative cleanings and go to the dentist only when they are in pain or have another oral health problem.
As noted in our dental myths article, cavities and other issues don’t always cause pain right away. Some problems cause no pain at all. By the time you do notice pain or the problem, the issue may be more advanced and more complicated, possibly limiting your treatment options and taking more time and money to treat.
3. You Feel Fine, So What’s The Problem?
Unfortunately, bad oral health habits mean men are more likely to develop periodontal disease. According to the ADA, 34% of men between the ages of 30 and 54 suffer from periodontal disease, compared to 23% of women in the same age range. The same is true for those over 55, where 56% of men are afflicted, compared to 44% of women. The average man will lose 5.4 teeth by age 72. If he smokes, he can plan on losing 12 teeth by age 72, as reported by the Academy of General Dentistry.
4. Do You Use Tobacco?
Men, in general, are at greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. If you are a man who smokes or chews tobacco you are at even greater risk. The carcinogens in these products are directly linked to oral cancer. 95% of oral cancers occur after age 40, but cancer can occur at any age. Identifying cancer at the earliest stage possible is crucial. The checkup done after your cleaning typically includes a screening for oral cancer. This screening alone is good reason to see your dentist regularly.
5. Do You Have Dry Mouth?
As we mentioned in the beginning, men are more prone to having heart disease and high blood pressure. These conditions affect oral health as well, since many of the medications used to treat them are known to cause dry mouth. With less saliva to help fight the bacteria in their mouths, these men are more susceptible to dental decay and bad breath as well.
6. Do You Participate in Sports?
If you engage in sporting activities with potential for facial injury you should wear a mouth guard. Replacing teeth is an expensive unexpected expense and going without teeth is not as socially or professionally acceptable as it once was.
Many of the above oral health problems are preventable. Early detection and treatment is important. Visit your dentist twice a year and tell us about your tobacco use, sports activities and medications, so we can help you get healthy and stay that way.