We hate to generalize, but guys, you’re not going to the dentist as much as you should.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, fewer men than women see a dentist at least once a year. Some studies suggest men tend to visit only when something needs attention or they have pain. Women on the other hand, are more likely to see a dentist for preventive care. No surprise there: Men tend to be more reluctant to seek health care of any kind.
Whether it’s ingrained traditional ideas of masculinity — you know, strong and silent — not wanting to take time off from work for an appointment or the cost of care, men could be putting their overall health at risk without regular dental care.
Higher risk means higher need
Men’s lifestyles can put them at higher risk of dental problems. They’re more likely than women to chew tobacco, smoke and over-consume alcohol — harmful activities that can lead to many health issues, including oral cancer, gum disease and other health issues.
Also, more men play contact sports such as tackle football, rugby, water polo, wrestling and boxing. (Again, this is a generalization: We see you, great ladies of the WNBA.) More collisions mean more chipped, cracked or lost teeth.
At the same time, a study in the Journal of Periodontology found men have a poorer understanding than women of what constitutes good oral health and a less positive attitude about visiting the dentist.
3 reasons to man up and visit the dentist
Gents, even if you’re a smoke-free nondrinker who avoids rougher sports, there are still good reasons and easier ways than ever to get the dentist on your calendar once or twice a year:
1. Catch little problems, prevent big ones. Just as the name implies, regular preventive dental care can help prevent problems such as gum disease and cavities. When problems do occur, they’re caught early, when they’re most treatable.
2. Save money. Dental insurance is usually affordable — but it’s only a good value if you use it. If you have coverage, learn how it works. Preventive care is often covered at a much higher percentage than major procedures such as root canals and crowns. If your employer doesn’t offer a group plan, shop for your own policy.
3. Look for flexibility. Many dentists offer appointments outside traditional business hours. You may have more options than you realize to fit an appointment on your schedule.
So get out your calendar and your phone and make that appointment for a check-up now. Your smile — and your health — just might depend on it.