What’s a gift that any father can appreciate? Good health. (And maintaining it!) Unfortunately, when it comes to taking care of their own health, most men could do a better job. In fact, men in general often do a better job of putting their health at risk.
As June is Men’s Health Month, and Father’s day already happened, now is a good time to remind the men in your life to take better care of themselves. And because good oral health is directly linked to people living longer, the timing is perfect for this reminder: Take better care of your teeth and gums.
Keeping teeth and gums healthy is something men just don’t do as well as women. Men don’t brush or floss as often, and they’re less likely to schedule regular dental exams and teeth cleanings. One survey says 62% of men regretted not doing a better job taking care of their teeth earlier in life.
Because many men are proving to be slackers when it comes to their oral health, they’re jeopardizing their overall health too. So what’s a man to do? Make a change. With a little oral health awareness, men can improve their oral health while also reducing their risk for other health issues.
5 Ways Men Jeopardize Their Health
Avoiding these will help men stay healthier and live longer.
- Skipping Regular Dental Exams & Cleanings – Studies show that women are twice as likely as men to schedule and show up for their regular dental exams. They are also more likely to maintain any recommended treatments following their checkups. Not only are men less likely to seek preventive dental care, they’ll often neglect their oral health for years, visiting a dentist only when a problem arises. Here’s a big opportunity for improvement, men. Stay on top of your annual dental exams and teeth cleanings. It’ll keep your teeth healthy, help you live longer, and reduce your risk for more costly dental treatments down the road.
- Getting Gum Disease – When it comes maintaining a healthy heart, men can use all the help they can – they’re twice as likely as women to have a heart attack. Fortunately, what’s good for your mouth is also good for the heart. Studies prove that there’s a connection between gum disease and heart disease too, by taking care of their gums, men can lower their risk for heart attacks and strokes. Signs of gum disease? Bleeding gums when you brush; tender, swollen or irritable gums; chronic bad breath; loose or separating teeth. If any of these symptoms are noticed, please let us know. The good news is that gum disease can be prevented or treated.
- Having Dry Mouth – 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; in fact, about 80% of prescribed medications can. So, what’s dry mouth? It’s when the saliva flow within your mouth is reduced, causing a chronic feeling of being parched. Besides discomfort, dry mouth leads to dental issues – tooth decay, weakened tooth enamel, and gum disease. Why do this happen? Because your mouth relies on saliva to help wash away cavity causing bacteria that lingers in your mouth. Your saliva also contain an antibody called Immunoglobulin A (IgA) that attacks disease-causing microorganisms. Having proper saliva flow is good for your mouth and your health. Luckily, there are things you can do to help build saliva, as well as ways your dentist can help reduce dry mouth.
- Not Screening for Oral Cancer – Besides heart disease, men also have twice the risk for developing oral cancer. For men between 45 to 59, oral cancer is now the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer. The good news? Your dentist can help screen for it and, like most cancers, early detection improves survival rates. During routine dental exams (Another good reason for men to not miss these!), we’ll look for any signs of cancer. We can also offer a more thorough screening using the non-invasive VELscope treatment. When oral cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is over 80%. If you’re a male between the higher risk ages, be sure to include an oral cancer screening into your annual dental exams.
- Losing Teeth – By the time he reaches 72, the average man will have lost about 5 teeth. If he’s a smoker, that number goes up to 12. And if he plays sports, and doesn’t wear a mouth guard, that number could go up. Losing teeth can prevent men from enjoying their “golden years”, 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 it gets in the way of a beautiful smile. So, what’s a man to do? Hold on to your teeth for as long as you can. That means maintaining good oral hygiene (flossing & brushing), not missing dental appointments, and wearing a custom fit sports mouth guard when you’re out there recreating – too many teeth get knocked out playing sports, like basketball. And please, don’t use your mouth to open things.
With a little more oral hygiene and oral health awareness, more men can start canceling out these risks that are jeopardizing their health, so that they can enjoy many more future “father’s days”.
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) 524-1000 or contact us online. We’ll do our best to help you stay healthy, and smiling, for many years to come!