June is Men's Health month. There are a number of things men can do to improve their health, including getting a physicals, going to the gym, or improving diet. One less-obvious health-improving tip is to pay a visit to the dentist.
Dr. Fred Guerra with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs says a person’s oral health will generally tell a lot about a person's overall health. “The mouth is kind of a portal to the rest of the body, and it's a significant indicator to a person’s overall health. Rarely do we see someone in the dental chair that is a specimen of good health that has a very unhealthy mouth. Vice-versa, rarely do we see someone with an excellent mouth, with beautiful gum tissue, someone who is taking care of their mouth that has an unhealthy body,” Guerra said.
When it comes to oral hygiene, Guerra has observed gender inequality. “I would generally say women probably take better care of their teeth. Women tend to visit the dentist more frequently. Often in men we find an individual that hasn't been to the dentist in three to five years. They are busy or they may feel there is nothing bad going on, it's a typical guy thing."
When men do get around to getting to the dentist, Dr. Guerra says there are often a few basic issues he sees that need to be addressed. "Usually one of the chief complaints they will have is ‘someone told me I have bad breath,’ or ‘my gums bleed when I floss.’ We will do the very basics with them and go over why it's important to take care of their teeth. We will address their periodontal health - the gums - and try to find out what is giving them a bad breath if they have it. We will combine that with an oral cancer screening, because you don't have to be a heavy smoker or drinker to have oral cancer.”
The bottom line is brushing and flossing will do much more than just keeping teeth and gums clean and healthy. Dr. Guerra adds, "We do know that bacteria in the mouth can have a significant effect on other diseases, diabetes and really a host of issues that can cause problems because of the nature of the different bacteria in the mouth spreading to other organs.”
So. men, if you haven't been to the dentist in the last year or so, it’s a good idea to make an appointment and get a check-up, it can improve your overall health.