Look after your smile

There were smiles all round at this week’s insightful men’s health talk from Keynsham Dental Care on oral hygiene and oral cancer. As it’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, we were walking the talk on this important topic. With a recent survey from the Oral Health Foundation finding that two-thirds of men regret not taking better care of their oral health earlier in life, this talk came not a moment too soon.

Sinking our teeth into oral hygiene

I set up this series of men’s health talks as much to educate me as anyone. I consider myself pretty good at oral hygiene. I brush twice a day with an electric toothbrush. Whenever I have a check-up, albeit I’ve not had one in a while, I usually get the thumbs up from my dentist. OK, I don’t floss (even though my dentist recommended it), but I use mouthwash, which I thought was a good substitute.

How wrong could I be – even flossing once a month is better than nothing – there was one of our group who flosses a few times a week. As for mouthwash – the comment that it’s the equivalent of chucking a bucket of water over your car at the end of a car wash will stick with me for a long time. There were probing questions on whether or not to rinse your mouth out at the end of brushing, with the response being to not as it rinses off the concentrated fluoride that helps to protect your teeth.

Chewing the facts on gum disease

Keynsham Dental Care also talked about gum disease, which affects three-quarters of men. There was loads of useful information. For example, did you know that people with gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease? It’s because the bacteria from gum disease may promote clotting than can clog arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart attack or strokes.

Given it is Mouth Cancer Action Month; the statistic that really stuck out for me was that men with gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. When you consider that inflammation of the gums is often associated with brushing, those two minutes you spend at the sink twice a day can make all the difference.

Word of mouth on cancer

While on the topic of mouth cancer, I was surprised to learn that mouth cancer is so deadly. On average 50% survive 5 years, with survival rates strongly linked to stage of diagnosis. Given that men are more likely to smoke and drink which heightens the risk, combined with being less proactive with dental check-ups is it a surprise that men are twice as likely to develop mouth cancer than women.

There are some brilliant resources available from the Mouth Cancer Foundation to raise awareness on the simple checks you can do to check for mouth cancer. The take-home message from Keynsham Dental Care being that regular attendance at a dentist is important. Not just to check teeth are in full working order, but because it can prevent disease and prevention is better than cure.

Doing yoga for good

As you can see, Keynsham Dental Care’s talk was truly enlightening – if nothing else because I’ll never look at mouthwash in the same light again. All profits from the night’s Yoga For Men classes will be donated to Smile Train – a global charity that partners with local hospitals to strengthen health systems and empower local medical professionals to offer surgical services and comprehensive cleft care to children in their own communities. When you consider that 200,000+ new babies are born with clefts every year globally, and that £150 can cover the cost of cleft surgery, the money we’ve raised this month will contribute towards positively changing a child’s life forever.

My series of Yoga For Men’s Health events continue throughout November. The men’s health talks are all free to attend. All profits from my Yoga For Men classes are being donated to charities such as Smile Train. Check out my events page for all the details and book online to secure your space.