09 JANUARY 2019

Have you ever heard of Superman Syndrome? It is the idea that some men tend not to take good care of their bodies because they think of themselves as being sort of invincible – a.k.a Superman Syndrome.

Rather than admit we have a problem we tend to simply ignore health warning signs in the hope that our bodies will sort it out or that they’ll simply go away. Take bleeding gums for example, one of the first signs of gum disease. A recent survey of both men and women by GSK reveals that only one in ten surveyed who noticed blood in their spit when brushing would visit the dentist about it1.

When it comes to our oral health and practicing good dental hygiene, it may not surprise you to know that men are lagging behind compared to women.

A recent nationwide survey conducted by the Oral Health Foundation found that more than three in five (62%) men regret not taking better care of their oral health earlier in life.2 The good news is, it’s never too late to make a change.

With that in mind, here are five oral health tips that will help you make sure you keep a healthy smile for years to come!

Go easy on the booze

The phrase “everything in moderation” is very fitting when we talk about how much alcohol we drink. There is nothing wrong with the odd drink here and there, but it becomes a problem when you consume amounts that are way more than is necessary.

Firstly, alcoholic drinks like white wine, beer and cider can all be very acidic. The acid in these drinks can lead to dental erosion, which is the breakdown of the top layer of your teeth. It can be very painful and lead to increased sensitivity.

If you end up drinking too much you could be hit with a double-whammy of acid attacks if your night ends with vomiting. The acid in your stomach will be brought up so in addition to the fragile state you’re likely to be in the next day, your teeth will also be suffering – especially since you’ll probably have also forgotten to give them a clean before you climbed into bed!

The downfalls to drinking too much go on but one of the biggest consequences of drinking too much is an increased risk of mouth cancer. If you drink more than the recommended weekly limit, then you are far more likely to develop mouth cancer than the average joe.

So, keep the drink level down to a responsible level and you won’t regret it!

Don’t use your mouth to open things

As a former student, I would often hear tales of how guys had used various cooking utensils, lighters and even their elbows to prize off bottle caps. However, one thing we definitely should not be using to open things is our teeth. In fact, using your teeth to open a bottle is one of the most dangerous things you can do to your teeth. In addition to a cracked tooth, you’re also risking having your tooth enamel scraped away by the metal or plastic top.

Remember, our teeth have one sole purpose: chewing food. We should not use our teeth as a substitute for pliers or scissors, no matter how tempting it may be.

Go to the dentist

This is an obvious one, but it is something that you’ve got to do - whether it is every three, six or 12 months. As often as your dental team recommend you should be getting to your appointments. Remember, your dentist isn’t just there for when you have an issue. Visiting them regularly also means you can get advice on improving your oral hygiene. Furthermore, dentists are in a better position to spot and address any arising problems before they become serious. Mouth cancer is a prime example of this and how a routine visit could save your life

Carry sugar-free chewing gum

Did you know that chewing sugar-free gum is actually good for your teeth and gums? The taste in sugar-free gum is added using sweeteners and therefore the gum does not cause tooth decay and can help reduce acid levels in your mouth.

Your teeth are more at risk of acid attack after you have eaten. The acid is produced by plaque bacteria, and the sugars in our food and drink, and it slowly dissolves away the enamel and dentine of the tooth, to produce a hole or ‘cavity'.

By helping us make more saliva, chewing sugar-free gum can help to reduce this type of acid attack. It takes the saliva about an hour to replace the minerals that the enamel has lost. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating or drinking can increase the flow of saliva and help replace the minerals quicker.

On top of all that, it will also leave your breath nice and fresh too.

Oral cancer check

As mentioned before, dentists can check for mouth cancer and will do during every routine check-up. However, you can check for signs of mouth cancer yourself just by using a mirror. It won’t take more than two minutes of your time.

  • Common signs of mouth cancer you should look out for: Ulcers that do not heal within three weeks.
  • Any unusual red or white patches in your mouth including on your tongue.
  • Any lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
  • Persistent hoarseness.

If you spot any of these symptoms, get checked out by your dentist or doctor as soon as possible. There is probably nothing seriously wrong, but an early diagnosis could save your life.

One final note

One stereotype which still exists is that men have a bad reputation for not talking about their feelings and concerns. However, it’s so important that if you do have any concerns about our oral health that you go to your dentist. Dentists are there to not only check your teeth. They are also more than able to provide advice and support specific to your oral health needs.

If you have any more questions or concerns about issues raised in this blog, or would like any other oral health advice, contact our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780.


References

1. GSK (2013) Omni Survey Delivery Data.

2. Oral Health Foundation (2018) ‘National Smile Month Survey 2018’, Atomik Research, United Kingdom, Sample Size 2,005