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Why do Men avoid the dentist?

According to a recent study by the Cleveland Clinic, men aren’t going to the doctor for regular checkups as they should. 72% of survey respondents said they’d rather do household chores like clean the bathroom or mow the lawn than go to the doctor. Similarly, three-quarters of men who are married or in a domestic partnership would rather go shopping with their significant other than visit the doctor.

Men are less likely than women to seek preventive dental care and may neglect their oral health for years, according to the American Dental Association.

Why are men avoiding the dentist?

For many men, it’s simple. They don’t want to “bother” the doctor or dentist because they think the problem will likely just resolve on its own. For others, it’s fear-based. They are afraid of what the diagnosis or outcome of an issue could reveal.

Avoiding the dentist is part of a larger oral health problem that has men dodging routine at-home dental care too. Consider the following:

  • Men are less likely to brush their teeth after every meal compared to women
  • Men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day compared to women
  • Men are more likely to have untreated dental decay compared to women

What is the impact on their smile and overall health?

Heart disease is still the number one leading cause of death for men in the United States, and poor oral hygiene can increase your risk of heart disease. High levels of inflammation associated with untreated periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can contribute to heart conditions. It leads to a scary statistic: those with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.

Research also suggests a link between a man’s prostate health and periodontal health. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally released in very small amounts. When these PSA levels rise, it can signal a problem in the prostate. Men who have signs of gum disease and prostate issues have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of the conditions.

While more research is needed, there’s evidence that men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to have gum disease than those who don’t have it. A study in China found that rats with periodontitis or gum disease had less of an enzyme which helps males achieve an erection.

How can men take back control of their health?

Men need to keep these two words in mind: proaction and prevention. Good oral and overall health starts with being proactive about your health and seeking preventive care. For starters, brushing and flossing daily can help reduce tooth decay by as much as 40%. Second, schedule annual dental checkups. Dentists can detect up to 120 diseases that have signs and symptoms in the mouth. This means they are often the first person to spot a potential problem before it gets worse.

And if anxiety about going to the dentist is the root cause for avoiding these annual checkups, try using these tips:

  1. Plan ahead—book an appointment when you’re not in a rush to reduce your stress
  2. Take a few slow, deep breaths after arriving at the office if you feel tension rising
  3. Let your dentist know if you’re feeling anxious, he or she might have some relaxation techniques to try

Establishing an oral health care routine at home and scheduling regular dental checkups will help men (and women) avoid more costly and painful procedures in the future.

Arnold, Jessica, “Men, Avoiding the Dentist is Bad for Your Health”, Delta Dental

Men, Avoiding the Dentist is Bad for Your Health

What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Your child’s baby teeth are important and are still susceptible to cavities, even though they are temporary. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak, and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth grow and develop correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.

What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.

There are many factors that can cause tooth decay in babies and toddlers. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar, including milk. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is frequently used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.

Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth or cleans a pacifier, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.

If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay 

  • Avoid sharing feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3. 
  • Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
  • Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. 

“Bottle Tooth Decay”, Mouth Healthy

Are Spicy Foods Good for You?

In the desert southwest, the tiny chili pepper is mighty in flavor and cultural significance. From packing heat into salsa and sauces to hanging decoratively on the walls of homes and restaurants, these bright, shiny-skinned peppers are the spice of life in Arizona.

Part of the plant genus Capsicum, the chili pepper is a flowering plant in the nightshade family. Some common varieties include ancho peppers, banana peppers, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapenos, ghost peppers, and habaneros. While they vary in size and color, the heat of each pepper is determined by one shared chemical component: capsaicin.

Whether you prefer your food scorching or subdued, the burning feeling you get from chowing down on your favorite spicy Mexican dish is good for you.

Nutrients in Hot Peppers Are Good for Your Mouth

Chili peppers are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, chilis contain Vitamin A, which protects your bones and teeth. Vitamin A also helps reduce inflammation and infection in the tissues of your gums. Some other beneficial vitamins include:

  • Vitamin K1: Essential for healthy bones and kidneys
  • Potassium: Improves bone mineral density
  • Vitamin C: Strengthens gums and soft tissues in the mouth. It can protect against gingivitis.

Other Benefits of Eating Hot Peppers

  • Boosts metabolism. When you pop a hot pepper into your mouth, your brain sends signals to your body to remove the hot substance, this results in increased circulation, helping to boost your metabolism. And, there is some evidence to suggest that capsaicin can promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing fat burning.
  • Cools the body. Eating spicy foods can cool you down on a hot day. When you eat spicy foods, it raises your internal temperature to match the temperature outside. Your blood circulation increases, you start sweating and once that sweat evaporates, your body cools down.
  • Pain relief. Eating high amounts of chili peppers may desensitize your pain receptors over time. Also, when capsaicin is used in a lotion or cream, nerves in the hands and feet can grow accustomed to the feeling of heat and lower the body’s ability to process pain.
  • Release endorphins. If you’ve ever felt a bit buzzed when eating spicy food, science says there’s a reason for it. When eating spicy foods, the compounds in the spice send a message to your brain to make it think it’s in pain. As a response to this perceived pain, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine to block the pain signals.

Arnold, Jessica, “Are Spicy Foods Good for You: The Oral Health Benefits of Hot Peppers”. Delta Dental.

Will cleaning your tongue help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases?

Scientific literature continues to highlight the connection between the health of our mouths and the health of our bodies. For example, there has been extensive research on the profound impact that oral health can have on health risks such as heart disease.

It’s all about balance

Your mouth and the rest of your body are inextricably connected, which means what happens in the mouth can influence every other part of your body as well.  Each person is really an entire ecosystem of microbes and human cells engaged in a beautiful genetic dance. In order to thrive, we must be good stewards of the various microbes that make up our bodies, and not allow them to become out of balance.

What does this have to do with cleaning the tongue?

The mouth is home to many microbes- they live on and between our teeth, as well as on our tongue. These microbes are a healthy and normal thing. However, microbes also make up plaque, and can cause cavities and bad breath. 

If we allow plaque (biofilms of microbes) to stay on our teeth and tongue, they mature and get thicker. And that’s where the trouble starts.

While it’s normal and healthy to have small amounts of microbes living in our mouths, thick biofilms that sit on our teeth and tongue become anaerobic (low-oxygen) environments, and this change allows other, pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes to flourish. These anaerobic microbes can cause an inflammatory cascade in our immune system, affecting areas of our body far beyond our mouth.

How could tongue cleaning lower the risk of heart disease (and other inflammatory conditions)?

The tongue plays a vital role in introducing new material into our entire GI tract (our digestive system). So, maintaining a thin biofilm on the tongue is important if we want to avoid continuously harboring and swallowing inflammation-causing microbes. This means we need to regularly clean our tongue and make sure the biofilm there does not thicken and begin to cause negative effects like inflammation.

Why brushing the tongue isn’t cleaning the tongue

Brushing the tongue is somewhat helpful, but it’s just not as thorough as cleaning (scraping) the tongue. Scraping the tongue is more effective in removing the harmful bacteria from the mouth.

Causes of bad breath.

The tongue is home to the majority of microbes that cause bad breath.

So, by cleaning your tongue daily, not only will you support both your ‘in-the-mouth’ and ‘whole-body’ health, but you’ll also naturally freshen your breath. 

“Can cleaning your tongue help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory issues?”, Ora Wellness.

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