What me? Why men are more likely to put off going to the dentist

As its Men’s Health week (13-19 June) and also Father’s day on Sunday 19th the men in our lives are featuring high in our minds at the moment. But does their health feature as high on their priority list?

The Men’s Health Forum say that, ‘Men are less likely than women to use a general practice or visit a pharmacy and in persons aged 20-40 women attended a general practice twice as often’. Worryingly, we see a similar trend at our dental practice too.

This week is all about highlighting the importance of communicating symptoms and making the time to get things checked out.  This sort of preventative care can save a lot of trouble in the future. But what is it that stops guys from addressing their health concerns?  Recent studies have come up with a few suggestions…

1.       It’s just a bit girly to worry about that sort of stuff

All man-flu jokes aside… Health is socially constructed as a feminine concern and men therefore have to behave as if they are unconcerned about their health in order to publicly sustain a ‘real’ male identity.

2.       It’s best to fly by the seat of your pants

Risk-taking behaviour is associated with masculinity and is therefore more common in males than females. A King’s Fund study that looked at four behaviours – smoking, drinking, diet and exercise – found that men were more likely to participate in a combination of three or four risky behaviours. These risky activities are more likely to lead to health concerns in themselves.

3.       There’s time for that later

Belief that routine appointments are a waste of time means that men are more likely to develop symptoms and ignore them before finally giving in and making a doctor or dentist appointment.

What can we do about it?

Well, creating the environment for men to speak openly and honestly about their health concerns in a non-judgmental environment is a great starting point. Encourage the men in your life to get symptoms checked out as soon as possible.

And, as far as we’re concerned, to attend regular dental appointments so that we can monitor their dental health for them. The state of our teeth and gums can often signal systemic problems, including cardiovascular disease, celiac disease, diabetes, sinus infection, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux, alcoholism, and more. In fact, your dentist can sometimes diagnose these conditions before your doctor!