Men and Their Dental Health
Most men tend to be a little less attentive to their personal hygiene compared to women and this is true for dental hygiene as well according to recent studies. Recent surveys from the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association, show men are less likely than women to visit the dentist for preventive dental care and will often neglect their oral health for years.
Findings From Study
-Brushing After Meals. The average male is less likely to brush his teeth after every meal. Approximately 21% of men in the study said they brush after every meal while almost 30% of women said they did. The results are close but still a significant gap. Both genders need to improve on this number.
-Daily Brushing. The average male is less likely to brush his teeth twice a day. Almost 50% of the men in the study said they brush twice a day whereas almost 57% of the women said they did. Again the numbers are quite close and both genders need to improve but women outperform men again in this category.
30 to 54 years old: 34 percent of men compared with 23 percent of women
55 to 90 years old: 56 percent of men compared to 44 percent of women.
Assessing Men’s Dental Risk
Recent studies suggest there may be a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. As we know, cardiovascular disease can place people at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. Because of this, men should be especially vigilant for signs of periodontal disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.
While it is important for all men to be on top of their dental hygiene some men should be even more diligent due to medical histories. These include:
-Men who take prescription medications. Some medications (blood pressure medications and antidepressants) can cause dry mouth. Men who take these medications could develop decreased salivary flow, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Saliva helps reduce the cavity causing bacteria found in the mouth by washing away food particles and neutralizing acid found in drinks and food and formed by plaque bacteria.
What To Do If You Have Dry Mouth?
Men who have dry mouth may need to drink more water to ease their symptoms. Other ways to relieve dry mouth include:
-Chewing sugarless gum. A good example is chewing a gum with xyltiol. Xylitol has ben proven to inhibit the creation of acid in your mouth thereby protecting your teeth.
-Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages. All of these beverages tend to dry out your mouth as well as increase exposure to acids in the mouth.
-Avoiding overly salty foods. Salt tends to dry you out enhancing the feeling of thirst.
-Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse.
Men who have inhibited saliva flow should also ask their dentist about saliva substitutes or other alternatives to promote salivary flow.
Tobacco Use in Men. Men who smoke or chew tobacco have a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Men in general have higher risk for developing periodontal
disease or cancer, so tobacco use just increases that risk even further. Age is also a factor, as 95 % of oral cancers occur in those older than 40 years of age. The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, the lips and gums. Oral Cancer must be diagnosed early for a successful treatment outcome. If it is not diagnosed early and treated in its early stages oral cancer can spread very quickly leading to chronic pain, loss of function, and even death.
For that reason it is very important for men who use tobacco to see a dentist on a regular basis for dental examinations and cleanings and to ensure their mouth remains healthy. A general dentist can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer. Try to find a dentist using the Velscope oral cancer screening system. The Velscope is a quick, painless test using a special light to find cancerous and precancerous cells at the earliest possible stage but it cannot be diagnosed if you do not visit your dentist.
Men who play sports. Men who partake in sports have an increased potential for trauma to their mouths and teeth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, it is important to use a mouthguard, which is a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. These mouthguards should be custom made by your dentist for best protection. Men who ride bicycles or motorcycles should wear a helmet.
Dental Hygiene Tips For Men (and Women!)
The following are some tips to improve your dental hygiene:
-Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. (Using a toothpaste with fluoride can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40 percent.)
-Use a soft bristled toothbrush and use proper tooth brushing technique by positioning the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet.
-Replace your toothbrush regularly. It is recommended to replace your brush every 2-3 months or after you have been sick.
-Floss daily. Use the proper technique and gently insert floss between teeth using a back and forth motion. Curve the floss into a C shape against one tooth and then the other.
-Visit the dentist at twice a year for dental examinations and professional cleanings.
There is no reason why men cannot have better dental hygiene. It takes a commitment to make dental hygiene a part of your daily routine. This commitment to dental health will give men a better chance of living a long, healthy life.