In light of Father’s Day, this article focuses on raising oral health awareness for all the men out there. Prior research has shown that men often have a greater tendency to delay or avoid preventative care and wait to address health issues once they become a problem (Hsiaso et al, 2010). As a result, bigger dental problems exist for men and more extensive dental care becomes necessary.
Men and women have different needs and oral health is not excluded. There are specific sex-based oral health differences between men and women (Bencosme J, 2016).
Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that put them at an increased risk for particular oral health diseases.
- Greater tobacco use
- Higher alcohol consumption
- Greater participation in contact sports
- Less likely to seek preventive dental care
Men are more likely to experience these oral health diseases or problems as a result:
- 2 times more likely to develop oral cancer
- Increased risk of dental trauma related to contact sports or other behaviors, such as using teeth to open something
- Greater risk for developing gum disease
- Dry mouth as a result of medications or diet
- Dental cavities
Oral diseases are influenced by genetics, socioeconomic status, behaviors, and biological factors to name a few (Lipsky et al, 2021). Research suggests that men have an elevated risk for developing cardiovascular diseases when compared to women. In addition, there is support showing an association between cardiovascular disease and gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). Based on the 2009 - 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 56.4% of men were more likely to develop gum disease when compared to 38.4% of women (Eke et al, 2015).
Steps men can take to have positive outcomes for their mouth:
- Be mindful of alcohol consumption and tobacco use (this includes smokeless tobacco products like vaping and chewing tobacco). This will help reduce the risk of developing oral cancer, gum disease, dry mouth, and tooth loss.
- Sugar-free gum is a great alternative to chewing tobacco.
- Pay attention to your diet. Limit the amount of sodas and sugary snacks and beverages to reduce the risk for cavities and dry mouth.
- Wear a custom or over-the-counter mouthguard when participating in contact sports.
- Do not use your teeth to serve as a utensil, pair of scissors, or bottle opener.
- Exercise to reduce your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
- Establish routine and preventive medical and dental care. Do not wait until you are experiencing a medical or dental problem to schedule a visit.
- Establish and implement a daily oral hygiene routine.
- Brush twice a day for 2 minutes, floss nightly, use an antimicrobial/antiseptic mouthwash, and be sure to brush along gumlines at a 45-degree angle.
Oral health is as important as your physical and mental health and should not be compromised or neglected. Most oral diseases are preventable and men should prioritize preventive dental care to avoid needing more extensive treatment. Remember, the mouth is a gateway to the body.
Bencosme J. Sex-Based Differences in Oral Health. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. December 2016;14(12):33–34.
Hsiao C.-J., Cherry D. K., Beatty P. C., Rechtsteiner E. A. (2010). National ambulatory medical care survey: 2007 summary. National Health Statistics Reports 27, 1–32.
Eke PI, Dye BA, Wei L, Slade GD, Thornton-Evans GO, Borgnakke WS, Taylor GW, Page RC, Beck JD, Genco RJ. Update on Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: NHANES 2009 to 2012. J Periodontol. 2015 May;86(5):611-22.
Lipsky MS, Su S, Crespo CJ, Hung M. Men and Oral Health: A Review of Sex and Gender Differences. Am J Mens Health. 2021 May-Jun;15(3):15579883211016361.
Written by: Kristen Cockrell, RDH, MSDH
Kristen is a Pediatric Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive dentistry and oral health education. In addition to working full-time as a hygienist and mother to two young boys, Kristen is an oral health expert with Grin Natural.