Do you know that oral health means different things for women and men? You would think that in this one aspect, men and women will see eye-to-eye. After all, oral health is an important component of one’s personal hygiene and overall health. Why should there be a difference between how women and men take care of their oral health?
Yet, it is true. Several studies found out that men are less likely to take care of their dental health and are also less likely to visit the dentist. The figures speak for themselves. The average man does not like brushing his teeth after eating. Only 20.5% do as compared to women with 28.7%). Men are also less likely to brush their teeth at least twice a day. Only 49% of men brush their teeth twice a day. Now, compare this with 56.8% of women, and that’s a huge difference. When it comes to dental decay, men are also more prone to the condition—29% compared to 25% of women.
Visits to the Dentist
Compared to women, men visit the dentist less frequently. If they do, it’s usually because of an acute problem and not for disease prevention. Women are known to visit the dentist for cleaning and other preventive measures. Men will usually only visit the dentist when they are suffering from acute oral health problems. This means that the problem has already been exacerbated to the point that men can no longer function without painkillers.
They go to the dentist when the issue is so complex that it already needs procedure and surgery. They hesitate to go to an orthodontic dental lab for tests since they already have such bad experiences with dentists owing to the acute problems they faced in the past. This is a growing problem among the male population because they are also more prone to periodontal diseases.
When it comes to attitudes about dental visits, women exhibited a more positive outlook, too. They look forward to dental visits because they are doing this for their personal hygiene. They also have better oral health literacy and demonstrates improved oral health behaviors compared to men.
Disproportionate Ratio of Periodontal Diseases
The negative perceptions and behaviors of men against dental visits are alarming because they develop periodontal diseases more frequently than women do. This is because of a combination of biological and gender-related factors—immune systems and hormones. The lifestyles of men are also less healthy compared to women. On tobacco use alone, men and women have a ratio of 2:1.
In a 2015 study, it was found out that 16.7% of adult men use tobacco products compared to just 13.6% of adult women. Tobacco products like cigarettes, as everyone knows, increase the chances of oral cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, and cavities. Even with e-cigarettes, the ratio remains the same: more boys than girls use e-cigarettes. If you think that e-cigarettes are safer and less potent compared to tobacco products, think again. Several studies pointed to the fact that e-cigarettes contribute to the pathogenesis of periodontitis.
Risks of Dental Trauma
Another thing that men must watch out against is dental trauma. Studies showed that men are more likely to experience dental trauma such as those relating to contact sports and risky behaviors. Unintentional physical injuries often always involve gums and teeth. For example, physical altercations are more common among men than women. Men also inflict more pain on the other party when this happens.
In sports, men are less likely to wear mouthguards and protective gear because these are uncomfortable. Women are more in the safe zone when doing strenuous physical activities. They understand that accidents can lead to them breaking bones, bruising their faces, and many other painful conditions. But men and their concept of being the “stronger sex” will forego wearing protective gears. As a result, they’re often on the receiving end of traumatic dental injuries.
Implications on Men’s Health
Men are missing out on one important detail: that dental health is linked to one’s overall health. But despite this connection, men often neglect oral health. They refuse to acknowledge that neglecting oral health can lead to cardiovascular diseases, stroke, dementia, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. These are the leading causes of death in the United States.
More research is needed to educate men on the importance of oral health and the connection it has with overall health. Men have to understand how to incorporate dental hygiene into their daily routines. They need to accept the reality that though their physique matters (as they care more about the gym than going to the dentist), their oral health could prevent more serious complications.