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What men need to know about their oral health

Many studies have shown that men take their oral health for granted. Compared to women, men are less likely to seek preventive dental care and more likely to neglect their oral health (often for years). For example:

  • The average man is less likely to visit a dentist (61% of men compared with 67% of women), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The average man is more likely to develop gum disease (11% of men compared with 6% of women), according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
  • Men are about 40% less likely to brush their teeth after every meal, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

Neglecting oral care can lead to more than an unhealthy smile. Developing gum disease can lead to life-altering and deadly medical conditions.

The connection between gum and cardiovascular disease

Having gum disease can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, you should be especially vigilant for signs of gum disease such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or loose teeth.

Risk factor: Taking certain medications

Some medications, such as heart or blood pressure medications or antidepressants, can cause dry mouth. If you take these medications you can develop dry mouth, 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.

If you have dry mouth, you may need to increase your water intake to ease your symptoms. Here's what you can do to ease dry mouth.

  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Cut back on salty foods.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouth rinse.
  • Try a saliva substitute.

Risk factor: Using 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, and using tobacco increases that risk. Age is also a factor: The majority of oral cancers occur in those over 40 years of age, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

If you smoke or chew tobacco, see a dentist for regular cleanings and to screen for oral cancer.

Risk factor: Playing sports

If you play sports, you have a greater chance for trauma to your mouth. When playing contact sports, such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball or baseball, make sure to use a mouthguard, a flexible appliance made of plastic that protects teeth from trauma. If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle, you should always wear a helmet.

Take care of your teeth

Your oral health is key, so take time out to focus on it. Here are three easy things you can do to improve your dental health.

Together, these tips can go a long way in maintaining both your smile and your overall wellness.

Last updated February 11, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.