When it comes to dental care, men and women aren't quite the same. Although both should both be concerned about cavities, gum disease and other common oral care issues, there are some big differences between them.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, men are more likely to neglect their oral health – increasing their risk for cavities, tooth loss and gum disease. There is also a higher rate of cardiac disease among men than women, with 70 to 89 percent of sudden heart problems occurring in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This increased risk means they are more likely to take medications that can cause dry mouth or oral issues. Men might confront these types of challenges frequently in their dental care, but they also have just as many options to protect their mouths.
Going to the Dentist
For personal or social reasons, men may not see their dentists for regular checkups and cleanings as often as women. A study of 800 young adults revealed that women were nearly twice as likely to have seen their dentist for a checkup in the past year, and to have scheduled any recommended follow-up treatment after the first exam. But regular dental exams are equally important for everyone, age and sex notwithstanding. During an exam, a dentist can catch and treat any cavities before they become a major issue, inspect the gums for periodontal disease and recommend any changes in one's at-home oral care routine.
Nevertheless, scheduling this exam can be nerve-wracking – especially if you haven't seen the dentist in some time – so the more time that passes, the less likely you are to ultimately go. To get yourself onto a regular schedule, remember to book your next appointment with the dentist before you leave the office.
Treating Gum Disease
One of the results of lacking dental visits is a higher rate of gum disease: Nearly 57 percent of men have some form of gum infection compared to 38.4 percent of women, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. This is particularly important for men to treat or prevent because it carries a link to few male-specific health problems, such as prostate issues and erectile dysfunction. 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 erectile dysfunction.
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.
A great oral care routine at home 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. And 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.
Coping with 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 one's 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.
Like women, the health of a man's mouth affects the health of the rest of his body. To be in the best shape possible, it's essential that everyone focuses on their oral health the best they can.
Learn more about men's oral health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.