Only 38% of Australian men attend the dentist for regular dental check-ups. It is also interesting to note more men have untreated dental decay, gum disease and experiences of toothaches than women. Husbands, sons, brothers and boyfriends will have many different reasons (or excuses) for not visiting the dentist regularly. It is very important they make a decision to change their behaviour and include dental check-ups into their personal care routine. If you have a man in your life who needs to make that change we are here to help.
Why do men avoid visiting the dentist?
This is a very common reason to avoid the dentist. There is usually a fear of pain, needles, sound of the drill and lack of control. Dental anxiety and phobias can be very difficult to manage particularly when there is a need to visit the dentist such as in the case of a toothache. Patients begin to associate their dental visits with experiences of pain which results in a cycle of avoiding the dentist and not getting the treatment they need. A lot of men will put up with gum disease, broken or sore teeth until they suffer severe pain.
Some men feel embarrassed about the state of their mouth and feel uncomfortable with someone probing around. A lack of confidence with their smile, chewing ability and possibly bad breath is often an excuse for men to further put off dental visits.
Often it has been quite some time since their last dental visit. This can make men feel apprehensive about being negatively judged by the dentist. Many may have had a negative experience in the past, especially as a child that has resulted in avoiding the dentist. They may not have an understanding of the importance of regular dental checks to assess for early signs of dental, oral and general disease due to a lack of dental education.
It is easy to think that if there is no problem why go to the dentist, however in most situations the longer a problem is left the options available to you for treatment become more expensive and more limited. Regular dental checks ensure that any issues are detected and treated early, avoiding the need for costly treatment.
What can you do to help?
Depending on the reason for avoidance there are different approaches that can prove effective. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start the conversation. Find out why he is avoiding going to the dentist.
- Set realistic expectations. Today there is a huge emphasis on pain free dentistry, preventive dentistry and patient centred care.
- Suggest that they come to the dentist with you for your appointment. Sitting in the waiting room, meeting the staff and dentist. Starting to get familiar with the surroundings.
- You won’t know until you go. This goes for knowing what problems there are (painful or not), what options there are and the cost of treatment.
- Remind hi oral health problems are linked to serious general health problems such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer and heart disease.
- Avoiding the dentist is NOT being a role model for his children?
- If the fear of the dentist is a serious phobia then he may benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy with a qualified counsellor.
Our dentists and dental hygienists are here to help. If you need further advice please call us on (03) 6231 3645 to request an appointment.
Read our article on dental fears for additional help.