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 experience toothaches than women. Husbands, sons, brothers and boyfriends will have many 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 in 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, the sound of the drill and a lack of control. Dental anxiety and phobias can be challenging 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. Many men will put up with gum disease and broken or sore teeth until they suffer severe pain.
Some men feel embarrassed about the state of their mouths 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 postpone dental visits further.
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, especially as a child, that has resulted in avoiding the dentist. Due to a lack of dental education, they may not understand the importance of regular dental checks to assess for early signs of dental, oral and general disease.
It is easy to think that if there is no problem, why go to the dentist but just because there is no pain does not mean there is no problem. In most situations, the longer a problem is put off, the more expensive and invasive it is to correct. 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 significant emphasis on pain-free dentistry, preventive dentistry and patient-centred care.
- Suggest that he come to the dentist with you for your appointment. Meeting the staff and dentist at your appointment will help familiarise him with the surroundings and what happens at check-ups.
- You won’t know until you go. He will not know if he has any problems (painful or not) unless he has a check-up.
- Remind him 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 severe phobia, 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.