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The importance of men’s oral health

Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and often neglect their oral health for years, according to surveys and studies from the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association.

  • The average man is less likely to visit a dentist (61% of men compared with 67% of women), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The average man is more likely to develop gum disease (11% of men compared with 6% of women), according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The connection between gum and cardiovascular disease

Having gum disease can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, you should be especially vigilant for signs of gum disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.

Risk factors for dental problems

Taking medication

Some medications, such as heart or blood pressure medications or antidepressants, can cause dry mouth. If you take these medications you can develop dry mouth, increasing the risk for cavities. Saliva helps reduce the cavity-causing bacteria found in the mouth by washing away food particles. Saliva also helps neutralize the tooth-attacking acids formed by plaque.

If you have dry mouth, you may need to increase your water intake to ease your symptoms. Other ways to ease dry mouth include:

  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Avoiding overly salty foods
  • Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse
  • Using a saliva substitute

Using tobacco

Men who smoke or chew tobacco have a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Even men who don’t use tobacco are more likely than women to have gum disease or cancer, so using tobacco increases that risk. Age is also a factor: the majority of oral cancers occur in those over 40 years of age, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

It is important for men who smoke or chew tobacco to see a dentist for regular cleanings and to screen for oral cancer.

Playing sports

If you play sports, you have a greater chance for trauma to your mouth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, it is important to use a mouthguard, a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle, you should always wear a helmet.

Take care of your teeth

It’s important to take time out to focus on your oral health. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two to three minutes at least twice daily, flossing daily and visiting the dentist at least once a year can go a long way in maintaining your overall wellness.

Related reading

Last updated: January 2017

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.