Men's oral health for Father's Day
SUMMARY: Take a look at how tobacco use and medications affect men's oral health. Maybe what Dad wants for Father's Day are tooth whitening products.
Posted: June 6, 2014
In honor of Father's Day on June 15, 2014, let's take a look at men's oral health.
According to a Gallup poll taken in April 2014, men are less likely to visit the dentist than women, with only 62 percent of males reporting seeing their dentist last year. Often, guys wait until something is wrong, letting pain from a rotting tooth or other oral health issue spur their dental appointments. Men also spend less time on preventive dental home care. This includes brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing at least five times a week.
So, why should men pay more attention to their teeth and gums? Besides making them appear younger and more employable, a healthy mouth is associated with a reduced risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Research has found that periodontal disease (advanced stage gum disease) is higher in men at 56 percent than in women at 38 percent. This condition occurs when plaque lingering along the gum line has calcified into tartar, which not only severely inflames the gums, but starts eroding them. At this point, gum tissue begins pulling away from teeth, resulting in redness, swelling and in some cases, tooth loss.
Furthermore, studies indicate that advanced stage gum disease is linked to heart disease. Since men are already more likely to develop heart disease than women, maintaining gum health is another way to lower this risk.
About 800 million of the world's 1 billion smokers are men, according to the World Health Organization. On top of triggering an array of systemic health problems, smoking exacerbates gum disease by leaving toxic chemicals on tooth pockets and the tongue, which may result in smoker's bad breath.
The best way to steer clear of these problems is to quit smoking. However, if you use tobacco, it's important to stay vigilant with daily oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. The American Dental Association recommends going to the dental office at least once every six months.
"A visit to your dentist is a golden opportunity to identify the warning signs of periodontal disease, and men need to be aware of what these findings can mean as they relate to their overall health," Dr. Kyle Dosch, a dental consultant for Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, told AgeWise King County. "Your six-month check-up will benefit more than just your smile."
Some medications, such as treatments for heart problems or blood pressure or antidepressants, can lead to dry mouth as a side effect. When this happens, saliva production becomes inhibited, increasing the risk for cavities, gum disease and other infections. Normally, saliva helps kill the anaerobic bacteria found in the mouth by rinsing away food particles and neutralizing acids. Fathers who have dry mouth may want to increase their water intake to ease symptoms.
For this Father's Day, help the man of your life keep his pearly whites shining and mouth healthy.