June is Men’s Health Month, so let’s take some time to focus on something many men neglect: their oral hygiene. According to recent surveys, less than 50% of men brush their teeth twice a day, compared to about 60% of women. And men are much less likely to make their regular checkups and hygiene visits, too.
It’s important for men to understand the value of oral hygiene to ensure they remain healthy.
Consequences of Brushing Less
Surprisingly, statistics don’t show that men are more likely to have cavities, although they are more likely to have cavities that are still in need of reconstructive dentistry.
Where men truly suffer is in the area of gum disease. Men are 50% more likely to have gum disease than women, and men are about twice as likely to have severe gum disease.
Why Don’t Men Brush?
There are a lot of reasons why men don’t brush their teeth. Culturally, men are often taught that they should be low-maintenance. Many men pride themselves on being able to roll out of bed and head out the door five minutes later. That probably doesn’t include two minutes for toothbrushing.
It’s related that many men probably consider toothbrushing to be part of the cosmetic realm of self care. And many men don’t like to spend too much time grooming or preening themselves because they’ve been taught that is a feminine characteristic.
But probably the most important reason why men don’t brush as often as women is that they don’t see oral health as connected with general health. Women are much more likely to link the two concepts.
And that’s a shame for men, because that gum disease they are fostering, has a number of important impacts on men’s health.
Gum Disease Impacts Men’s Health
The leading killer of men in the US is heart disease, and heart disease is strongly linked to gum disease. Gum disease bacteria can enter the blood and contribute to inflammation of the heart and clogging of the arteries.
Gum disease is also linked to a number of cancers, including blood cancers, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer.
Gum disease is also associated with prostate inflammation, and sexual dysfunction. Men with gum disease may be three times as likely to experience erectile dysfunction.
So, if you are a man, or if you have a man you care about, make sure oral hygiene is on the agenda this June. It can lead to a lot more (and a lot more fun) summers to come.