Gums & Teeth, Health

A Gentleman’s Guide to a Better Grin

Gents, are you dropping the ball on your dental care? According to a national survey by the American Dental Association, men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day than women. Gals are 26% more likely than guys to floss daily. And men are also far behind when it comes to scheduling regular dental checkups and seeking preventive care.

The not-so-surprising result: According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), 56.4% of men are likely to suffer from gum disease, compared to 38.4% of women. 



Superman, the Doctor Is Ready to See You Now

It might be that men are less pressured to care about their appearances than women — nearly 75% of women would be embarrassed by a missing tooth, compared to only 57% of men, according to the AAP

Men are also less likely to seek health care for any reason. In a survey by the Cleveland Clinic, 72 percent of male respondents said they would rather be doing household chores, like cleaning toilets, than going to the doctor.

“As a primary care doctor, I think the number one reason men avoid the doctor is fear,” Dr. Tricia Rowe explained in an article on Healthline. “They worry about a bad diagnosis or a bad outcome.”

Finally, there is the superhero syndrome, which Dr. Rowe explains as men wanting to see themselves as forever strong and capable of handling anything. “They see going to the doctor as a weakness,” she says.


Tooth Care Canary in the Coal Mine

Here’s the rub: Gum disease doesn’t just mean red, tender gums, mouth sores, and breath that would knock out a dragon. Your dental health is a key indicator for your entire body’s well being. 

As reported on WebMd, “Researchers know there’s a synergic relationship between oral health and overall wellness. Gum disease is linked to a host of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. By combing through 1,000-plus medical histories, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.”

The website lays out how gum disease is associated specifically in men with:

1. Increased cholesterol and inflammation in the arteries.

2. Greater risk of cancer. Men with periodontal disease may be 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.

3. Higher rates of Erectile Dysfunction (ED). 53% of male patients with ED also suffer from severe gum disease. 



This Romance Needs a Root Canal

Gnarly dental care also puts romance on the rocks. An article in GQ details how men’s lax routines on brushing and flossing can ruin relationships: “If you search the word ‘teeth’ on Reddit, or through any internet advice column, you’ll see what a common issue this seems to be. Men who don’t brush for days at a time. Men turning defensive when their girlfriends ask them to go to the dentist. Men who shower every day, but whose only dental hygiene routine is stocking up on breath mints. Men who will nag their partners to brush their teeth, but who won’t do the same for themselves.”

A survey by the AAP showed that “three in five U.S. adults who have a partner say their partner’s oral health (e.g., teeth, gums, breath) has an effect on their intimacy.” Women are also more likely than men to say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they find attractive.

So sure, bring flowers to a date, but above all, bring that clean, healthy, sexy grin. (Hey, it’s a lot simpler than what a male bird-of-paradise does to get a mate!)


Take Action on Your Teeth

June is men’s health month — the perfect time to take stock of your oral health routine. Below are seven things that guys (and gals) can do to keep their teeth and gums in good shape.



1. Follow the 2x2 Tooth-Brushing Rule

Let’s get right to the (pearly white) nuts and bolts. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily is the number one way to maintain your oral health. If you lax on these basics, it’s like trying to drive a car without a steering wheel. You’re gonna end up in a cavity ditch.

The American Dental Association recommends you follow the 2x2 rule — brush your teeth twice a day (in the morning and before bed) for at least two minutes each time. That helps prevent the plaque created by the bacteria in our mouths from hardening into decay-causing tartar. 

If you go too many hours between brushing or don’t brush for long enough, bad bacteria can set up shop and wreak havoc on teeth and gums. We have a primer on how to properly brush in our post 10 Secrets to a Sparkling Smile.” 

In short, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush in small, gentle circles — a micro version of the “wax on, wax off” scene from Karate Kid. You want to gently massage away cavity-causing plaque without scratching “the paint” of your enamel and gums, “Daniel-san.” If you press too hard, it stresses out your gums and can eventually make them recede.  

Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush at least every three months, or whenever your brush starts to fray or show wear.


 2. Floss Party Tonight!

Toothbrushes can’t reach at least 35% of your teeth’s surfaces. That’s where flossing comes in. Skipping flossing is like only mowing two-thirds of your lawn, or taking a shower without washing your armpits, or if you’re a dad, only wiping part of the dinner off of your toddler’s face. Ew.

So be sure to throw yourself a nightly floss party. It’s not just for show. You’ve gotta floss to remove the plaque that leads to cavity-causing tartar and gingivitis, to keep your gums healthy, and to remove stains so your handsome smile stays bright. 

Bonus: Flossing also helps keep your breath kissably fresh.    

Need a little motivation to kick-start your flossing habit? Sign up for our 21-Day Floss Challenge.


 3. Don’t Check Out on Your Check-Ups

Women were twice as likely to have received a regular check-up in the past twelve months than men were, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2011. That means men are likely to have fewer cleanings, leaving them more exposed to the potential for cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer.

While dental offices have been closed except for emergency procedures due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are beginning to reopen with new safety procedures in place. Be sure to get touch with your dental pro as soon as possible.

Check-ups don’t just screen for dental decay, they also help catch overall health problems. “The condition of your teeth and gums can often show warning signs of serious issues, from potential tooth loss to possible cardiovascular disease and cancer,” says Dr. Lisa Simon, instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

If you haven’t been to the dentist for a while, it can take guts to make an appointment again. But if this guy — who didn’t brush his teeth for 20 years — can do it, so can you. 



4. Make Water Your Go-To Drink

Cavities love to form in dry environments. When you’re parched, there’s nothing to wash away  the food particles and sugar that fuel bad bacteria, along with the enamel-eating acids they produce.

Hello, H20, nature’s perfect drink. Water cleanses away crumbs, pigments, and bad bacteria that can make your teeth look like they belong to a miner onDeadwood. Water is also the primary ingredient in saliva  — your body’s first line of defense against tooth decay. Saliva neutralizes acids, swooshes away snacky debris, and also contains disease-fighting substances. Boom! 

So keep your water bottle handy. Carry it around with you and drink whenever you feel thirsty. How much you need to drink varies based on your exercise level and other factors, but most men need about 13 cups (about 3 liters) of water per day. If you think in pints, that’s 6.5 (but sorry guys, beer doesn’t count). 

Also keep in mind that some medications may hamper the health of your mouth. Men are twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks over their lifetimes than women, and they tend to have higher blood pressure. Medication for heart problems or blood pressure, in addition to other medicine like antidepressants, can leave you with dry mouth, a condition where you stop producing as much saliva as usual, creating a hotbed for tooth decay.

Keep dry mouth at bay by sipping water, chewing sugarless gum, and avoiding substances that dehydrate you like coffee, tobacco, and alcohol.

Be especially careful of over-consuming caffeine-charged energy drinks, which are often marketed to men. Their extra high acidity damages tooth enamel like a shot from the Joker’s deadly lapel flower. Holy dental caries, Batman!  


5. Play Defense With a Mouth Guard

While people aren’t playing a lot of team sports right now, one day soon we hope everyone can get back in the game. When you do, make a mouth guard an essential part of your equipment. 

Some studies show that around 80% of sports players have reported dental injury. A mouthguard can protect you against a host of bad things, like tooth fractures, lost teeth, intrusions, and extrusions. 

Basketball, football, hockey, martial arts, and boxing are the biggest culprits for tooth-related injuries in sports. But we suggest you wear a mouth guard if you play any contact sport, and for some recreational activities too, like skateboarding or in-line skating. 

No points for losing a tooth! Plus, do you really want a hockey smile”? 


6. Stamp Out Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Globally, men tend to use tobacco products more often than women. Tobacco smoke contains more than 70 chemicals known to cause cancer (carcinogens) according to the Oral Cancer Foundation

Cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and even chewing tobacco can open the door to nefarious health effects, like oral cancer and periodontitis, aka gum disease. We’re talking potential bone loss, painful and bleeding gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. Consuming nicotine or tar can also mean unsightly yellow or brown stains on your teeth.  

Heads up: Oral cancer often forms in hard-to-see places like the floor of your mouth or the back of your tongue, as well as other areas in your mouth made of soft tissue, your lips, and gums. Keep up your biannual dentist visits to catch these potentially terminal issues in their early stages.

Need help quitting smoking? Start here.



7. Snack on Superfoods for Your Smile

It’s no wonder people are turning to crunchy, processed comfort foods during the coronavirus outbreak while they try to cope. As the weeks pass by, though, all these snacks made of simple carbs will prompt oral bacteria to start secreting acid, which can cause tooth decay. 

So while it’s understandable if that bag of Kettle Chips keeps calling your name, it’s also a good idea to throw some healthier snacks in the mix. Try cutting up pieces of fibrous fruits and veggies, like apples or celery, if you can snag them at the store. Other superfoods for your smile include strawberries, leafy greens, and nourishing nuts.     

Short on fresh produce? Calcium-rich foods, like cheeses, are another good option to munch on in moderation to keep your teeth strong. 

If you want to dig further into what to eat to keep your mouth and entire body in prime condition, check out The Dental Diet by dentist Dr. Steven Lin. It’s highly recommended by Cocofloss co-founder and dentist Dr. Chrystle Cu



Self-care is sexy for both women and men. Gents, treat your gorgeous grin to the world’s best floss. You’ll look and feel fresh, clean, and ready to seize the day — with a sparkling smile. 


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