When it comes to taking care of their physical health, studies show that men are more likely than women to ignore any potential problems and only seek medical treatment when absolutely necessary. Studies also show that this disturbing trend also applies to how men treat their oral health, as well.
Despite research that links strong oral health with longevity, when compared to women, men are less likely to visit the dentist to receive preventative oral care and often neglect their oral health for years, delaying treatment until a serious oral concern arises. Studies also show that men brush their teeth on average 1.9 times a day and will lose an average of 5.4 teeth by age 72, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. If a man smokes, the number of teeth he’ll lose on average by age 72 jumps to 12. Due to the lack of oral care, men also have a higher risk of developing throat and oral cancer, and gum disease.
The Dangers of Gum Disease
Because, on average, men neglect to brush and floss as frequently as women, they have a higher risk of developing gum disease. By failing to regularly practice quality oral hygiene, men allow plaque, a stick biofilm consisting of bacteria and lingering food particles, to buildup in their mouth. Whenever you consume sugar, plaque begins producing acids that slowly erode away at tooth enamel. Over a long enough period, these plaque acids can wear tiny holes and grooves in tooth enamel where bacteria can begin to accumulate. Once in these holes, you can no longer remove the bacteria from your teeth by brushing, which eventually leads to decay.
Failing to brush also allows plaque to harden on your teeth into a rough substance known as tartar. Tartar builds up along the gum line, and like plaque, produces harmful acids that irritate surrounding gum tissue. These acids breakdown the fibers that tightly attach your gums to the base of your teeth, eventually causing gum recession and creating small pockets near the base of your teeth where even more bacteria can begin to accumulate.
Failure to treat the early stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, can lead to the development of periodontal disease, a more serious form of the disease. You need to seek dental treatment if you experience such symptoms as:
- Gums that bleed from brushing
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Consistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
Gum disease ranks as the leading cause of tooth loss and should not be ignored. While your dentist can easily reverse the damage done by gingivitis, periodontal disease can cause permanent damage to the health of your teeth.
Since the majority of men fail to undergo regular checkups and cleanings, they also fail to receive routine oral cancer screenings from their dentist. Oral cancer has few noticeable symptoms during the early stages of the disease, which often go overlooked by the untrained eye. Failure to catch oral cancer during the disease’s early, easily treatable stages can result in a more difficult battle against a disease that has a high mortality rate during its later stages.
Men who smoke or use any type of tobacco products have a higher risk of developing oral cancer than women who smoke, as men are twice as likely to develop the disease. In men and women, 95 percent of all oral cancer cases occur to those over the age of 40. The areas of the mouth where oral cancer frequently occurs are the floor of the mouth, tongue, soft palate, and the back of the gums, lips, and tongue. If you smoke, the urgency of visiting the dentist becomes even greater.