Men’s oral health shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it’s been proven that men are less likely to take care of their teeth than women. According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, men are more likely to neglect oral health care, develop oral or throat cancer, acquire gum disease and lose teeth by age 72. This is why establishing proper oral health care practices early in life is so important.
The benefits of a beautiful smile are endless. Here are five tips that can help men effectively maintain their oral health.
1. Get Regular Dental Exams
A crucial step in treating or preventing oral health problems (that can be linked to cancer, heart disease, gum disease and tooth loss) is getting regular dental exams. Men should have dental check-ups—which include routine cleanings and X-rays, if needed—every six months as a way to improve their oral health and prevent future problems. Regular dental exams also mean screenings for early signs of oral cancer, which can help identify issues before they become more serious.
2. Remember to Floss
Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth, as food particles and plaque can stick between teeth where toothbrushes don’t reach well. Men (and women) should floss at least once daily to maximize their oral health and lower the risk of gum disease. Caregivers can encourage young boys to floss each and every day to make this oral hygiene practice a habit.
3. Don’t Skip Brushing
The University of Illinois at Chicago says that on average, men brush their teeth just 1.9 times a day—which means many men fail to meet good oral hygiene recommendations. The American Dental Association suggests brushing at least twice daily with a soft-bristled brush, replacing toothbrushes every three to four months, brushing at a 45-degree angle from the gums and using short brushing strokes (up and down and side to side).
It’s a good idea for parents to encourage their kids to brush at least twice daily—in the morning and before bed. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends caregivers supervise (or help with) kids’ brushing techniques until they are eight years old.
4. Be Mindful of Your Diet
Following a proper diet helps prevent cavities and creates the foundation for good oral hygiene in children—something they’ll carry with them into adulthood. Eating certain foods helps with cavity prevention by fighting plaque buildup.
When it comes to your oral health, the University of Rochester Medical Center says tooth-friendly foods include fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, other calcium-rich dairy substitutes, green and black teas, sugarless chewing gum and fluoridated drinking water. Foods to steer clear of include sticky candies, sweets, soft breads, potato chips, soda and other sugary drinks. Kids and adults alike can chew sugarless gum after meals to boost saliva flow for added cavity prevention.
5. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is a habit that drastically boosts your risk for oral health problems, including oral cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. In fact, smoking more than doubles tooth loss risks in men by age 72, according to the aforementioned University of Illinois at Chicago report. On average, men who are non-smokers can expect to lose 5.4 teeth by that age, while smokers can lose 12 teeth.
Poor oral health caused by smoking is linked with a whole host of potential health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Teeth staining can also occur in smokers’ mouths, which takes a toll on the quality of an individual’s smile. Parents can explain the importance of avoiding tobacco to children and teens to help establish healthy habits at an early age.
When building company-wide dental plans that focus on men’s oral health, it’s important to keep in mind the effect of good oral hygiene (and regular dental check-ups) on overall health, wellness and the health care costs associated with chronic diseases. Including children in dental plans is crucial, as regular cleanings and check-ups lower the risk of oral health problems that can carry through into adulthood.