June 08, 2021
Start With the “Y” This Men’s Health Week
In 2009, acclaimed writer Simon Sinek started movement to inspire people into taking pride in their work and promoted the concept that when we create the right space; everyone achieves more. But the “Y” I am asking us to focus on is the “Y” chromosome.
That’s right blokes next week is all about you. Its Men’s Health Week and it’s important to highlight why we need to focus on the “Y”.
Men are more likely to suffer from health issues than our female counterparts and as we get through this pandemic; it is now more important than ever to ensure men are focussing on their physical, mental and social well-being. Let me start by highlighting some of the health statistics that males are poorly represented in.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, these are:
- Heart disease: 126 males for every 100 females affected
- Trachea and lung cancer: 155 males for every 100 females affected
- Chronic lower respiratory disease: 113 males for every 100 females affected
- Colon and rectum cancer: 123 males for every 100 females affected
- Blood and lymph cancer including leukemia: 135 males for every 100 females affected
- Diabetes: 113 males for every 100 females affected
- Suicide: 312 males for every 100 females affected
The last one is particularly concerning as most Australians and in particular Victorians have been through multiple lockdowns during this pandemic which has placed additional mental health pressures. Alarmingly, in regional and rural communities; men aged between 18-24 years of age are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to people of similar age living in the cities making the roles of “Men’s Sheds” in regional Australia even more important. Men’s Shed become a breakout place for males to get together, work on a project, share some banter about golf shots that they may or may not have hit, talk about the footy (although being a kiwi, I don’t quite understand the game as much as I understand rugby) and most importantly; have a safe space to talk all things “Y”.
As an Oral Health Clinician, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t highlight the importance of oral health as integral part of maintaining good general health as part of Men’s Health Week. The mouth is an integral part of the body, but when it comes to health conversations, oral health is often separated from general health. Unfortunately, conditions like diabetes and heart disease and have a strong link to poor oral health. Men who smoke and drink more than the acceptable amount are at more risk of developing oral cancers as well as advanced periodontal disease.
So, my fellow men, next time you think chewing mints after a meal to avoid brushing is good enough, remember that the cost of not looking after your teeth and gums leads not only to dental pain but also to financial pain. Based on the message of replacing your toothbrush every three months and purchasing paste and floss at regular intervals, it costs less than a $100 a year to maintain a preventive oral health regime. That is less that a cost of a basic filling, so prevention is key.
My top ten tips for maintaining optimal oral health are:
1. Don’t rush, just brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
2. Limit snacks to meal times and choose healthier snack options.
3. Floss like a boss.
4. Avoid sugary and fizzy drinks (including sports drinks).
5. Visit an oral health professional at least once a year(twice if you can).
6. Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
7. Seek smoking cessation advice.
8. Have a balanced diet as this assists in gum healing.
9. Use a mouth rinse as and when required. 10. Choose a soft tooth brush.
So, lets focus on the “Y” next week and beyond!
About the Author:
Arish Naresh is the Chief Executive Officer for Omeo District Health, Associate Professor in Oral Health and the current President of International Oral Health Association.