Men’s Oral Health: Why it is Important
Recent studies have shown that men are less likely to be concerned about oral health than women. Men tend to neglect their yearly checkups, brush less frequently and have more than a 10% higher rate of developing gum disease than women. Subsequently, gum disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease. If you have experienced the following symptoms, you should see your dentist.
- Gums bleed when brushing
- Gums tend to be red or swollen
- Loose teeth
- Chronic halitosis (bad breath)
Medications for blood pressure, heart disease or anti-depressants can block the flow of saliva causing dry mouth. Saliva is essential to the prevention of cavities because it minimizes cavity-causing bacteria to form in the mouth.
Smoking or chewing tobacco greatly increases the risk of gum disease as well as oral cancer—the risk being twice as high for men than women. Oral cancer, if not diagnosed at an early stage—can cause “chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery and even death”. Therefore, in order to keep your health in check, it is important to keep good oral hygiene and get your teeth cleaned regularly by your dentist.
If you’re into sports, you are at risk for potential trauma to the mouth. Always protect your teeth with a mouth guard. When playing contact sports, such as football, baseball or hockey, be sure to wear protective gear, such as a helmet. Helmets are very effective in protecting the head but they are also designed to protect the face, particularly the mouth.
Caring for your Teeth
To take better care of your oral health, it is important to floss daily, brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily and visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings. Here are some tips to better oral health:
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles; stiff bristles can cause gums to bleed as well as recede. Soft bristles are recommended for reaching all areas of the tooth. Once bristles get worn down and frayed, the toothbrush should be replaced; ideally, every 3-4 months.
- Replace your toothbrush after you’ve recovered from a sickness. Germs may be lingering on the toothbrush.
- Use fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.
- Use proper brushing technique. When cleaning the outer surface of the teeth, use a gentle, circular movement. When cleaning the inner surface of the teeth, the brush should be positioned vertically. Brush gently over each tooth and along the gum line. Brushing time: 3 minutes.
- Floss after every meal. Gently slide the floss between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Be careful not to force or snap the floss between the teeth. This can cause the irritation to the gums.