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Why oral health is important for men

Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and may neglect their oral health for years, according to the American Dental Association. In addition:

  • The average man is less likely to brush his teeth after every meal (20.5% compared with 28.7% for women).
  • The average man is less likely to brush his teeth twice a day (49% compared with 56.8% for women).
  • Men are more likely to have untreated dental decay than women (29% compared with 25% for women, age 35-44).

Staying proactive

Evidence suggests a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Because of this risk, you should be especially vigilant for signs of periodontal (gum) disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.

Although it’s important for everyone — men and women — to take care of their teeth, some circumstances call for extra vigilance.

If you… Be aware Steps you can take
Take medications, such as heart or blood pressure medications or antidepressants You could inhibit salivary flow and develop dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities. This condition increases your risk because saliva helps wash away food particles reducing the cavity-causing bacteria found in the mouth. Saliva also helps neutralize the tooth-attacking acids formed by plaque.
  • Increase your water intake.
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid overly salty foods.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouth rinse.
  • Ask your dentist about saliva substitutes or other alternatives to promote saliva flow.
Smoke or chew tobacco You have a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Age is a factor, with 95% of oral cancers occurring after age 40. The most frequent oral cancer locations are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, the lips and gums. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even See a dentist frequently for cleanings. Your general dentist can perform a thorough oral cancer screening.
Play sports You have a greater potential for trauma to your mouth and teeth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, use a mouthguard, which is a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects your teeth from trauma. If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle, wear a helmet.

Taking care of your teeth

These easy tips can help improve your dental health:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two to three minutes at least twice daily. Choosing a toothpaste with fluoride can reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush properly by positioning the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months or after you’ve been sick.
  • Floss daily, using the proper technique. Gently insert floss between teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and then the other.
  • Visit the dentist at least once a year for cleanings and exams.

Related reading:

Last updated: June 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.