Maintaining good oral health is an important part of ensuring the body’s overall health for everybody—men, women, and children included. It’s long been recognized that there’s a connection between our mouths and our bodies; specifically, people with gum disease are at increased risk of developing other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies suggest, however, that men with periodontal disease might have an even greater susceptibility to health problems than their female counterparts. In fact, men with gum disease might be putting themselves at greater risk of developing certain types of cancer, including kidney, pancreatic, and blood cancers. Despite these findings, men still fare worse than women when it comes to oral health concerns like gum disease and tooth loss.
There are many reasons why men tend to fare worse in the oral health department than women. Sometimes, the factors contributing to their less-than-ideal oral health are beyond their control, such as the side effects of certain medications. However, more often than not, men run into problems with their oral health for one simple reason: lifestyle choices. In fact, when it comes to certain lifestyle choices related to oral health, men and women differ in some pretty significant ways, including:
- Missed dental appointments. An essential part of maintaining good oral health is visiting the dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings. How often you should visit, however, can vary from person to person. In general, it’s recommended that the average person visits the dentist about every 6 months. People with risk factors for oral health problems—smokers, for example—might visit as often as every 3 to 4 months. Regardless of their risk factors or lack thereof, men visit the dentist less often than women. Moreover, they’re much less likely to visit the dentist for preventative care; instead, many men only visit the dentist when a problem—such as a toothache—arises.
- Poor brushing habits. When compared to their female counterparts, men’s teeth brushing habits fall short. Not only are men less likely to brush their teeth twice a day, but they’re also not as likely as women to brush following meals.
- Greater use of tobacco products. Oral cancers—including cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat—are twice as common in men than women. This is partly because men are more likely to use cancer-causing products, like cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Men are also more likely to indulge in binge drinking; like tobacco products, alcohol is a known carcinogen.
In addition to contributing to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers, these lifestyle choices can result in other undesirable outcomes, including:
- Periodontal disease. Men more commonly suffer from gum disease than women. Left untreated, gum disease can eventually progress to periodontitis, a severe form of the disease that often results in tooth loss.
- Advanced-stage disease. Because men are more likely to forego preventative dental care than women, they’re also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced oral health conditions. With regular preventative check-ups and cleanings, problems can be diagnosed and treated before they develop into serious concerns.
- Need for restorative treatment. Not surprisingly, elderly men are more likely to require restorative treatment—and particularly dentures—than elderly women. When oral health problems have the chance to progress to advanced conditions, more extensive treatment is typically required.
Make no mistake: maintaining good oral health habits is important for everyone, regardless of age or sex. However, due to increased risks associated with poor oral health, it’s critical for men to pay especially close attention to their teeth and gums. But men can’t do it alone; regular check-ups with a dentist are necessary to help ensure that any problems are caught and treated early. Contact us today to learn more!