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Real Men Wear Gowns: The importance of dental care

Why going to the dentist is so important for your overall health.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Ok guys. Open wide, really wide. It's time to visit the dentist.

"We really want to get men in for the routine checkups," says Vanessa Burton, dentist at HealthPartners Brooklyn Center. 

Good dental health is all about prevention, but according to the Centers for Disease Control men are more likely to skip regular checkups, and wait until something needs attention or there is some kind of mouth-related pain. That, Burton says, usually leads to restorative care. 

"Fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, extractions," she explains.

Those larger fixes cost more cash and they might be avoidable with a regular checkup, which is usually your best value.

"Insurances really like to pay for preventative care and that's usually where people get the best benefit," Burton says. 

While you're in the dentist's chair, they'll check for cavities, monitor bone and gum health and even check for STI's like Human Papillomavirus.

"Everything mouth-related is body-related. It used to kind of be that dental/mouth was just one kind of entity and the rest of the body was separate," Burton says. 

Bacteria, which can be deadly, is plentiful in the mouth. There's over 500 different kinds. However regular cleaning helps regulate that.

"These bacteria flow all over. So, if there's a lot of bacteria in the mouth there's a lot of problems it can cause with inflammation, with getting clogged on different heart muscles, valves," says Burton. 

If you're stressed about seeing the dentist there's plenty of technology to ease that fear - from soothing music, to meditation, to breathing techniques. If none of that works, they can always use things like nitrous or "laughing gas".