When it comes to dental health tips for men, as you already know, studies and surveys show that men are less likely than women to tend to their physical health – what you may not realize is that this also applies to dental health. It may also surprise you to learn that there is a link between oral health and longevity. Similar to routine physicals, men often ignore their annual or semi-annual dental checkups and that can lead to some serious dental health issues – primarily periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the result of plaque buildup on the teeth and under the gums. Over time, this plaque hardens into a tough, porous substance known as tartar – tartar contains bacteria which produces acid that can irritate and even eat away at the gums. As the gums wear away, the bacteria spreads into periodontal pockets and it can even spread into the root of the tooth or the bones in the jaw, causing serious damage to the tooth and even death of the tooth.
This level of periodontal damage is generally irreversible – if things get that bad, the tooth must be removed. In the early stages, however, the inflammation of the gums is mild and can be reversed with daily flossing and brushing – this level of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Having regular teeth cleanings performed by a dental hygienist (on top of daily brushing and flossing) is the best way to prevent mild gingivitis from progressing into periodontitis, or severe gum inflammation, which can progress to tooth damage and bone loss.
Anyone can develop periodontal disease, but there are certain risk factors which can increase your risk. Smoking, for example, can not only increase your risk for periodontal disease but it can also make treatments less effective. Individuals with diabetes have a higher risk for developing infections, including gingivitis or periodontitis. Taking certain medications can reduce the saliva production in your mouth which can keep dangerous bacteria from being washed away, making your mouth more vulnerable to infection. It is also true that some people have a genetic predisposition toward oral health issues and periodontal disease.
Dental Health Tips for Men: Signs
The common signs of dental health issues include persistent bad breath, swollen or red gums, tender or bleeding gums, painful chewing, sensitive teeth, and receding gums. Some of the best things you can do to preserve your dental health include the following:
- Brush your teeth twice daily for two to three minutes using fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and hold the brush at a 45-degree angle, positioning the head where the gums and teeth meet.
- Floss your teeth daily, gently inserting it between the teeth and using a back-and-forth motion.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months and after you have recovered from an illness.
- Visit your dentist at least once (ideally twice) a year for an oral exam and cleaning.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is not difficult – it just takes a few minutes each day and it is well worth the effort. It is particularly important for men between the ages of 55 and 90 years – this is when the risk for periodontal disease is the highest, though there is always a present risk if you don’t care for your teeth properly.