Raising the game for men’s oral health

Health education needs to be adapted to the recipients and should offer positive options and support rather than warnings and criticism.

Placing health messages in the mainstream media is helping raise public awareness of breast, testicular and bowel cancer, HIV and STDs.

Many campaigns have targeted men who are generally less health conscious than women, often to their own detriment as they tend to delay seeking advice far longer than women. Men visit their GP 20% less often than women, and are less likely to have regular dental check-ups or to use pharmacies as a source of health information.

With proven links between poor oral health and numerous systemic diseases, dental healthcare professionals must acknowledge the gender gap, especially when promoting home oral hygiene routines and awareness.

A study published by the Department of Preventive Dentistry, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Japan, concluded: ‘Sex-based differences in gingivitis in young people can be explained by…  lifestyle, knowledge, and attitude.

‘To prevent gingivitis, different approaches to males and females may be useful.’

Of the 838 subjects aged 18 and 19, 440 were male and 398 female, and a rider to the study found that females were better informed, had a more positive attitude, a healthier lifestyle, and were better at caring for their own oral health than the males.

The Scottish Health Survey 2010 revealed that women were twice as likely to use dental floss every day (34% against 17% of men) and they had a far greater general awareness of oral health and preventive care.

There are also distinct hormonal changes during a woman’s life that impact upon oral health: puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

During puberty, increased levels of sex hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen, increase blood circulation to the gingival tissue which can give rise to increased inflammation and bleeding. Some women may briefly experience menstruation-related gingivitis symptoms immediately prior to their period, typically redness, oedema of the gingiva and some discomfort.

Although men do not experience comparable hormonal changes, the links between poor oral health and stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are not gender specific, and certain instances should give men great cause for concern; mouth cancer is twice as common in men and there is growing evidence to support a link between sexually transmitted HPV (human papilloma virus) and oral cancer.

Over the last decade there has been a marked change in male attitudes towards grooming, with increased sales of male cosmetics and greater demand for treatments such as manicures and waxing. Stressing the value of a clean mouth and a healthy smile through a regular home oral hygiene routine is likely to prove particularly effective with young men.

Modern devices such as the Waterpik Nanoä Water Flosser help to encourage the regular interproximal cleaning and removal of plaque and biofilm essential to maintaining good oral health. Waterpik Water Flossers are clinically proven to be up to twice as effective as traditional floss at improving gum health and the quiet, compact Nano Water Flosser can be powered from a shaver socket.

While oral health equality is not yet imminent, we have no shortage of opportunities to raise men’s game when it comes to oral healthcare.

For more information on Waterpik Water Flossers speak to your wholesaler or visit www.waterpik.co.uk.

Waterpik products are widely available in Boots stores and selected Lloyds Pharmacies.


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