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How Men’s Health Month Can Lead To a Conversation On Oral Health

Recently, Delta Dental of Washington shared a few facts on the importance of men’s oral health for Men’s Health Month (which is June, by the way). The link between chronic inflammation’s impact from gum disease and heart disease isn’t to be brushed off, especially when it comes to men.

The facts may or may not surprise you…but what matters is how we use this information to improve our current patients’ lives.

Fact: Less than 50% of men brush twice a day.

Before we say “ewwww” … let’s determine whether or not those who are brushing 2x a day are in alignment with ADA’s recommendations of 2x 2 minutes per time. That fact is missing. Of those 50%, it is estimated that a lesser number are likely to seek preventative care until there is a problem…hey guys… THAT’S the problem!!

Fact: 34% of men between the ages of 30-54 have gum disease.

Recent studies have shown an association between gum disease and a man’s increased risk for kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and blood cancers.

Fact: 1 in every 4 male deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease.

Gingivitis is a chronic inflammatory disease. And again, studies have shown that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums and possibly trigger inflammation in the arteries. Combine this with men who may be predisposed to heart disease and BAM.

Any one of these facts invites a discussion on the value of health, prevention and continued quality of life. Begin with something you know that relates to your patient by sharing a fact while you are documenting periodontal probing depths. Give them numbers to listen for that represents their current state of oral health. Yes, oral health includes brushing and flossing, although, it may be received as more of a nagging.

My suggestion is to go back to the facts. What if this conversation started with “a recent study stated that 50% of men brush 2x a day, that seems a little low, what are your thoughts?” Wait for their response.

Next, set it up with “the ADA recommends 2x day/2 minutes a time and flossing … I believe we can customize your home care regimen for some results that may surprise you, are you open to hear how?”

Now, you have their attention make it count!

I personally believe in the shock and awe home care answer. First, shock with a statement, “I don’t want you to ever entertain the idea of flossing again.” Relish that look, pause, now finish with “in order to remove 40% of the bacteria causing the chronic inflammation in-between your teeth, only an oral irrigator or interdental brush once day will do.”

Our goals are to create awareness of men’s oral health, recognize the severity of chronic inflammation, and arrive at a treatment plan for continued prevention that your male patients will be both willing and able to follow. You can accomplish these goals by simply keeping it to “just the facts”.

Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist
www.AnastasiaTurchetta.com

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