It goes without saying that men and women are very different, and that includes their oral health. In fact, new research in The Journal of Periodontology found that men face different challenges than women and often have poorer oral health as a result. Unfortunately, this can lead to a multitude of problems that affect both their smiles and overall well-being. Since Father’s Day is in June (and it’s also Men’s Health Month), it’s a great time to learn more about men’s oral health and how it can be improved. Find out more below!
What Oral Health Issues Do Men Face?
The study mentioned above found that women were nearly twice as likely to have had an annual dental checkup and also schedule any recommended treatment. In addition, women showed more signs of gum health like less bleeding, plaque, and tartar and also viewed dental visits in a more positive light.
Here are some additional statistics from the American Dental Association that may surprise you:
- Men are more likely to have untreated cavities than women: 29% compared with 25% for women.
- Men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day: 49% compared with 56.8% for women.
- Men are also less likely to brush after every meal: 20.5% compared with 28.7% for women.
What Are the Consequences of Poor Dental Health?
Unfortunately, this increased risk for dental problems can impact men in the following ways:
- Gum disease – Gum disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss and also increases the risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, some cancers, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
- Emergency dental care – Without routine visits, small problems aren’t found and treated early on, increasing the chance that they’ll turn into an emergency like a severe toothache or abscess.
- Major dental work – Preventative practices (e.g. good brushing and flossing, regular checkups, etc) are the best way to minimize the amount of dental work that’s needed in the long-term.
Two Ways To Improve Men’s Oral Health
There are many ways to keep the teeth and gums healthy, but simply focusing on these two strategies will go a long way:
- Regular checkups – A good analogy that many men can relate to is maintenance work for their vehicles. Scheduling 6-month checkups and cleanings is a lot like getting oil changes and tire rotations – it’s well worth it in the long-term.
- Good oral hygiene – Oral hygiene habits don’t have to be perfect, but they should be as consistent as possible. For some men, that might mean flossing 4-5 times a week instead of every night. Other men may find it easier to brush right after dinner instead of waiting until bedtime or using tools such as floss picks or interdental brushes. Good oral hygiene is really just a matter of finding what works best for each individual.
These two guidelines form the cornerstone of dental health and can help the men in your life achieve a healthier smile and overall well-being. And what better time to start than Men’s Health Month?!
About the Author
Dr. Nathan Coughlin is a board-certified orthodontist and a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He understands the unique challenges men face with their oral health and always gives his patients tips geared toward their individual needs. If you have any other questions about men’s oral health, he can be contacted through his website.