Guys will do anything to avoid seeing their doctors and dentists. Often they will neglect their oral health for years, reports the Academy of General Dentistry and American Dental Association. Statistics show that the average man will lose 5.4 teeth by age 72, or 12 teeth if he’s a smoker. Men are also more likely than women to develop oral and throat cancer as well as periodontal disease.
June 9-15 is National Men’s Health Week, the perfect time to take charge of oral health. Regularly scheduled appointments will help prevent cavities, periodontal disease and screen for oral cancer. Some things the Academy of General Dentistry suggests to keep in mind:
Risks of 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: 95 percent of oral cancers occur in those over 40 years of age.
The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and 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 death.
Facts about periodontal disease
Recent studies suggest there may be a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, which can place people at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Because of this, men should be especially vigilant for signs of periodontal (gum) disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.
Medication and Dry Mouth
Some medications, such as heart or blood pressure medications or antidepressants, can cause dry mouth. Men who take these medications could develop inhibited salivary flow, 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. Men who have dry mouth may need to increase their water intake to ease their symptoms. Other ways to eases dry mouth includes using an alcohol-free mouth rinse, chewing sugarless gum, avoiding salty foods, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages.
Sports and safety
Men who participate in sports have a greater potential for trauma to their mouths and teeth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, it is important to use a mouth guard, which is a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. Men who ride bicycles or motorcycles should wear a helmet