When it comes to dental care considerations, men and women aren't quite the same. For example, more men encounter gum disease than women – nearly 57 percent of men have some form of periodontal disease compared to 38.4 percent of women, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Men also have a higher risk for heart disease compared to women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 70 to 89 percent of sudden heart problems occurring in men. For this reason, they are more likely to take medications that can cause dry mouth or oral issues. Men might deal with these types of challenges more frequently in their dental care, but they have many options to protect their mouths.
The Gums and Erectile Dysfunction
Whether men are dealing with gingivitis or a more advanced form of periodontal disease, it is particularly important to treat the gums because these infections carry a link to few male-specific health problems – erectile dysfunction (ED), for example. A study by The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 53 percent of participants, made up of non-smoking men between the ages of 30 and 40, had severe gum disease and ED.
Although the two issues take place in very different parts of the body, they are both connected to inflammation. The inflammation that occurs in gum disease can damage blood vessels if the bacteria behind it gets into the bloodstream.
The Gums and the Prostate
Gum disease can also affect the health of a man's prostate, which a few studies suggest hold a connection to gum inflammation in the form of prostatitis. A 2015 study, published in the Dentistry journal, examined what happened to the prostate of 27 men over the age of 21 when they received treatment for their gum disease. Symptoms of prostatitis improved in 21 of the men, even though they had only been treated for gum disease.
The Gums and the Heart
Like gum disease, prostatitis and erectile dysfunction, cardiac disease is a type of inflammatory condition as well. The inflamed gums associated with periodontal disease can increase a person's risk for developing heart disease, for which men already have a higher risk than women. Because this motivates them to be particularly proactive toward the health of their teeth and gums, however, they can be just as on the ball when it comes to the health of their hearts.
Taking Medications That Cause Dry Mouth
Men's risk for heart disease can mean they are more likely to take a medication whose side-effects include dry mouth. This increases their risk for cavities and gum disease because there isn't enough saliva to help wash away bacteria and food debris. If you are dealing with dry mouth related to a medicine you take, your doctor may be able to adjust the dose to help relieve it. In the event that changing medicines is not an option, there are other ways to cope as well, such as taking regular sips of water, using a saliva substitute and chewing sugar-free gum.
A great oral care routine at home is one way to improve the health of your mouth and potentially your entire body. Good oral care means two things: brushing twice daily with toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Clean Mint to fight the bacteria behind gum disease, and flossing at least once a day. Both can help minimize a man's risk for gum disease. Regular dental checkups are also important, as your dentist can detect and treat early signs of the condition before it has a chance to affect other areas of the body.