College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

11 June 2020

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An interview with Dr Callum Blackhall

Did you know more men die at every stage through the life course than women?

More have accidents, take their own lives and suffer from lifestyle-related health conditions. This Men's Health Week (15-21 June), Dr Callum Blackhall, Clinical Director of JCU Dentistry, explains the connection between men's general and dental health, and how he likes to stay in shape.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Cycling to and from work as often as possible helps to keep me more energised and motivated to work long hours and deal with everyday stresses. I never go to the gym as I prefer to be active outdoors whenever possible, whether it be mountain biking, bush walking or remote area travel. Last winter I did a solo off-road motorcycle trip through Cape York, which was physically and mentally exhausting day after day. I also recently sailed to Antarctica from South America in a 60-foot yacht to go mountaineering in Antarctica. I travel as light as possible but always make sure to have my tooth brush packed!

Cooking healthy food every night and staying hydrated is also really important. Maintaining good health allows me to keep busy and do all of those things that are important to me. I also like a challenge and the better physical shape I am in, the bigger the challenge I feel confident to face.

Callum Blackhall, Dentist
Callum Blackhall in Antartica

Do men need to be more mindful of their oral and dental health?

Having been a dentist for 30 years, there is no doubt that men do not fare as well as women when it comes to oral health. They are less likely to brush their teeth regularly and seek preventive care early. As a consequence, they often present late with significant tooth decay problems. Men may also be more likely to consume energy drinks for sports hydration which contain high amounts of sugar, increasing tooth decay risk, and participating in contact sports increases the risk of suffering trauma to the mouth and teeth.

Men are also more prone to cardiovascular disease and evidence points to a relationship between untreated periodontal (gum) disease and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which in turn can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. So, men should be vigilant for signs of gum disease like red, swollen, bleeding gums and bad breath. Men over the age of 40 are at the greatest risk of oral cancer and so it is highly recommended they visit the dentist every 12 months for an examination and oral cancer screen.

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