Eight Oral Health Facts for Men

Men fare worse than women in many aspects of oral health, including rates of gum disease, tooth loss and certain oral infections. Some of these differences reflect dental health habits that are lacking more in men than in women, whereas others may be due to higher blood pressure and risk of heart disease. The medications men take to control these conditions can be a factor, as well.

Still, these oral health facts show how men's lifestyle choices simply differ from those of women.

1. Missing Dental Visits

Men are less likely to visit a dentist than women, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Rather than seeking preventative dentistry, they often visit a dentist only when they have a problem that needs prompt treatment.

2. Insufficient Brushing

Research by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the AGD found that roughly 8 percent more women brush their teeth twice a day than men. Adult males are also less likely than women to brush their teeth after every meal; this amounts to 20.5 percent of men compared to 28.7 percent of women.

3. More Gum Problems

The ADA and AGD also found that 34 percent of men from 30 to 54 years old suffer from gum or periodontal disease, relative to 23 percent of women within the same age range. Between the ages of 55 and 90 years, 56 percent of men and 44 percent of women suffered from gum disease.

4. Higher Risk of Dry Mouth

The AGD suggests the quality of men's dental health may be associated with heart disease and high blood pressure medications that cause dry mouth. Because saliva has a protective effect against bacteria, the chances of dental problems increase when it's low.

5. More Advanced Conditions

The Washington State Department of Health found that adult women have less severe periodontal disease than men of every age. In addition, white and African American women both have a lower incidence of pharyngeal cancer than men of the same backgrounds.

6. More Dental Replacements

Annlia Paganini-Hill and other researchers published a study in the Journal of Aging Research, which showed elderly men to have fewer teeth than women by a certain age. As a result, they more frequently wore dentures.

7. Higher Use of Carcinogens

Twice as many men as women develop oral cancer, often from smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol. Each of these are carcinogenic in nature, meaning they can put you at high risk for cancer.

8. Higher Risk of HPV

Poor oral health is also a risk factor for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. A study by the University of Texas found more men than women suffer from the oral manifestation of this virus, which can lead to oral cancer. Similarly, states the ADA, four times as many men as women suffer from oral cancer associated with HPV.

Men don't naturally come to the table with a good hand regarding certain oral health facts, but there is plenty they can do to reduce their risk of dental problems. Brushing twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Clean Mint, and flossing once daily after a particularly rich meal, can maintain healthy teeth and gums. A dentist can advise on how to help prevent dry mouth, and men can reduce some of the behaviors that may lead to oral cancer.

Learn more about oral cancer and its relationship to fruit in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.