Let’s face it, we all need to pay attention to dental care. A recent article in GQ poses the argument that men often have less dedication to their smile than women. The author got the idea for the piece from an advice column on Reddit where a 41-year-old woman complained about her husband not brushing his teeth. He would choose mouthwash over brushing, and only if she nagged him.
The author questioned other women who had significant others who lacked good oral health. Peter, 30 who brushes 2 to 3 times a week; Sam, 21 who only started brushing a few years ago and is still bad at remembering; and many other cases.
The article mentions a survey from the Academy of General Dentistry that finds that American women are more likely to get preventive dental care than men, and a study by the Journal of Periodontology that finds men less likely to brush regularly or to schedule regular dental checkups.
This difference in dental care leads to men having a better chance to develop cavities and to lose teeth as they age. Gum disease and oral and throat cancer are also seen more often in men. So what is causing this increased risk and difference in behavior?
Depression was discussed as a possible cause, but it wasn’t the case in the men who were studied. Access to care and economic factors were also discussed, but didn’t come into play with these cases. A plausible factor that the author shared was that women are more likely to be judged by their appearance, by both women and men. They are more critical of their own appearance, and are more likely to take the steps required to properly maintain their oral health.
In the article, some men had consequences including being dumped by their significant other over bad breath and poor oral health. We find this lack of care to be very concerning. Dr. Jessica Stilley suggests, “Ladies, don’t give up on your men. Please keep encouraging them to take care of their teeth. They also should be setting an example for your children. And men, start practicing good oral habits and finding ways to remember to make dental appointments and to brush.”