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Consumer News from the ADA-Men's oral health

Tough guys — listen up!

You might have muscles and the moxie to make it in the real world, whether you're a construction worker or a Wall Street wizard, but that doesn't make you immune to dental health problems.

Both men and women responding to a national survey last year said a nice smile was a person's most attractive feature — beating out the eyes, hair and body. But the survey also showed that men might be putting their best asset at risk because they are less likely to take care of their dental health.

Most (86 percent) women responding said they brush their teeth twice a day, compared to only 66 percent of men who said they do.

Men also changed their toothbrush less frequently than recommended by the ADA, opting for a new brush on average every five months instead of every three or four months.

And yup, the tough cowboys of the historic American West may have smoked, chewed or thrown back some hooch, but tobacco and alcohol are potential smile wreckers and downright dangerous. Guys who smoke cigars, cigarettes and pipes; use dip, snuff or chewing tobacco; or drink alcohol are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women, and their risk goes up after they hit age 50. Quitting tobacco and moderating or avoiding alcohol can protect those pearly whites and maybe even save your life.

Jocks that play contact sports like soccer, football, basketball and hockey should use a mouthguard to protect their teeth and road warriors who ride bicycles or motorcycles should wear a helmet.

Guys who think seeing a little blood in the sink after brushing is normal should visit the dentist to see if they are developing gum disease. Research has linked gum disease to a variety of other health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. Regular dental checkups are important for people of both genders and all ages.

Taking prescription medications can lead to dry mouth, a condition in which a lack of saliva increases the amount of cavity-causing bacteria that sticks to the teeth, leading to tooth decay.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

6/30/2010

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