Did you know that men are less likely to have good oral health habits compared to women?
It's no secret that the saying "men don't like fussing over their appearance too much" can cross over to their dental hygiene.
Recent studies have shown that while both men and women have almost equal access to dental care, men are less likely to visit their dentists regularly or even brush their teeth twice a day as recommended.
As a result, men are at a higher risk of developing dental problems such as gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
A recent study in the Journal of Dentistry found that many men don’t have great oral health habits, they go for fewer dental check-ups, and just generally have poorer oral health compared to women.
While it’s not accurate to say that all men struggle with oral health, certain factors may contribute to men having more oral health issues.
Oral hygiene advisor for Ivohealth and a member of the Oral Hygienists Association of South Africa (OHASA), Dirna Grobbelaar, raised concerns about men's oral health habits.
She highlighted how men are more reactive than proactive when it comes to dental care, leading to easily-preventable dental issues.
Neglecting regular dental check-ups and cleanings can result in unpleasant oral health problems over time, such as gum disease and cavities.
She pointed out that regular dental visits are essential for preventative care and early detection of oral health problems. “Unfortunately, men are less likely to prioritise regular visits to the dentist, which could pose a significant risk to their oral health.”
Lifestyle risk factors
Smoking and tobacco use are also known risk factors for various dental health issues, including oral cancer and gum disease, which are more prevalent among men.
Men may feel uneasy about appearing vulnerable or seeking dental care, leading to delays in addressing oral health issues that can only exacerbate the problem.
Additionally, “compared to women, men may floss less, not brush as regularly, and are possibly less likely to use other oral health products and tools such as tongue scrapers, interdental brushes and mouthwash,” she said.
The importance of prioritising oral health should not be underestimated, especially for men.
Building healthy oral hygiene habits such as daily brushing and flossing, quitting smoking, and prioritising regular dental check-ups can significantly improve oral health and overall wellbeing, said Grobbelaar.
Expert dental recommendations:
Thankfully there are a multitude of tools available to make oral hygiene easy.
The first step is to brush your teeth thoroughly, twice a day and for at least two minutes.
Brushing your teeth properly is the most important step towards preventing conditions such as gingivitis and tooth decay.
Choose a quality brush
Ideally, one should use either an electric brush or a manual toothbrush with soft bristles, such as the gum pro sensitive toothbrushes available on the market.
If you experience bleeding when you brush, try professional-quality toothpaste recommended by dentists.
Several people believe that brushing is enough to keep their mouths clean, according to Dr Stephne Fenwick, clinical advisor to Ivohealth.
Nevertheless, brushing is only effective in removing about half of the plaque from teeth and gums even when done correctly for two minutes.
“Daily interdental cleaning to remove any plaque or food debris trapped between the teeth, where your toothbrush simply can’t reach, is extremely important,” said Fenwick.
There are now a variety of flossing methods available, so you can find a type that is right for you. If you have tight gaps, look for a super thin, shred-resistant variety, advised Fenwick.
If you don't like flossing, use picks with super-soft rubber bristles. Alternatively, use a little interdental brush that bends at 90 degrees to reach every part of the mouth.
And then don’t forget your tongue. The tongue’s surface has tiny grooves where bacteria and plaque can accumulate.
Use normal mouthwash as a final step or an alcohol-free alternative so they don’t dry out the mouth.
“In addition to improving your daily oral health routine, have a professional cleaning at least every six months,” advised Grobbelaar.
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