Most men are perfectly aware of the benefits of having good breath. But beyond that, studies show men are pretty indifferent about their oral health. According to US News, women are 1/3 more likely to receive preventative dental care than men. Is this because men don’t think dental care is important? Are they afraid of being out of control of the situation in the dental chair? For one thing, there’s a lot more talk about women’s needs for dental care, but men should never interpret that to mean they are off the hook.
Why Don’t Men Go to the Dentist as Often?
The reason obviously varies based on the guy, but research does provide a few common explanations for the less frequent male appointments. According to a survey of dentists and patients by the Academy of General Dentistry, 45% of respondents felt that men don’t see a need to go to the dentist. 30% said that men don’t go because they feel afraid or embarrassed to go while 18% said men feel they simply don’t have time for a dental visit. 5% said that men don’t even have a regular dentist.
Some other reasons include:
• Men tend to only visit a dentist when a problem appears.
• Thanks to cultural norms, men typically feel like they should “tough it out”.
• Men don’t usually discuss their health with professionals.
• Men generally rely upon women for health advice, or at least nudging to go. A single man is less likely than a married one to visit the dentist.
• Sports increase mouth and teeth trauma, which tend to involve more men than women.
Why Should Men Be More Willing to Go to the Dentist?
Now, for the part of every health article in which all possible problems are discussed to motivate you to action. Men are more likely than women to…
• Develop oral and throat cancers
• Get periodontal disease
• Have oral HPV
• Use tobacco, creating and/or aggravating oral health conditions
• Suffer from diseases such as heart disease and diabetes which correlate with oral health complications
• Suffer from sleep apnea, which many dentists can treat
• Contract glossitis, a painful or swollen red tongue
At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, health issues can lead to chronic pain, facial disfigurement, erectile dysfunction, decrease in mouth and teeth functionality, and in some extreme cases, death. None of these conditions sound particularly pleasant, but lucky for you they can usually be prevented through biannual dentist check-ups.
Whatever Gets You into the Chair
Of course most men already know all about their oral health weaknesses, they might be hoping they’re an exception to the rule or just putting off dealing with the problem. Most dentists are happy with whatever it is that can get a man to sit down and open wide. And what seems to be working for many men, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, are the expanding options for cosmetic dentistry. Apparently, more men are slipping into the dentist’s chair even though it’s not necessarily to take initiative to care for their health.
AGD spokesperson J. Nick Russo, Sr. says, “In my practice, more men are coming in and requesting bleaching, veneers and bonding. Many have noticed the positive effects from a colleague’s improved smile and realize that a great smile has a lot of value in the business world.”
Men used to have the secure luxury of working for just one or two employers throughout their lives. Nowadays, lay-offs and company closings run rampant leaving middle-aged men to compete with younger competition, creating a stronger need for a sharp appearance. Not to mention, women love a good smile.
Whether you visit the dentist to prevent oral cancer or unemployment, it allows true change to occur in your personal life. Along with scheduling a dentist appointment, these lifestyle habits will improve both the attractiveness of your smile and your oral health:
• Limit sugar intake and eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables
• Avoid or limit alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages
• Stop using tobacco
• Brush adequately twice a day (if you don’t know the proper technique, ask your dentist)
• Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three months or after sickness
• Floss at least once a day
The fact of the matter is good oral health is linked to longevity and an increase in success. If you want to improve in all of those areas of your life, you’d be smart to give the dentist a call.