Don’t forget: Father’s Day is this Sunday! Have you already gotten your gift, or are you one of us who’s scrambling to think of a last minute present for dad? Whether or not you have that perfect jacket or set of golf clubs picked out, there’s something else you can do to show dad you care: ensure he’s taking care of his dental health. With June also being Men’s Health Month, now is the perfect time to get dad (grandpa, brother, etc.) thinking about men’s overall health.

As men age, monitoring their health becomes even more important. With illnesses like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia looming, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Did we mention erectile dysfunction? Yeah, there’s some scary ones to watch out for.

Did you know that oral health has systemic connections to all of the illnesses and conditions we listed above? One way for men to lower their overall risk for these illnesses and promote total health is to make sure they are taking care of their teeth. Gum disease occurs more frequently in men than women, perhaps because men are more likely to brush off what they see as “minor” symptoms like plaque, tartar and “pink in the sink.” While more research needs to be done to find out the exact links and the role they play in causing some illnesses, the connection between oral health and men’s overall health should not be ignored.

A few staggering facts about gum disease and men’s overall health

• Bacteria that cause gum disease are also found to increase cholesterol and inflammation in heart arteries.

• Men with gum disease are 54% more likely to get pancreatic cancer, 30% more likely to get blood cancer, 36% more likely to get lung cancer and 49% more likely to get kidney cancer.

• 53% of male patients with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) also suffer from severe gum disease.

So why is gum disease so serious and connected to such deadly diseases? Part of the reason is that the bacteria that proliferates in someone with gum disease can, if left untreated, travel to other parts of the body where it can wreak havoc there, as well.

So whether you’ve gotten dad the perfect gift already or not, consider also asking about the last time he’s been to the dentist. Seeing the dentist regularly is the first step for dad (and everyone) to take control of their oral and overall health. If he does have gum disease, there are treatment options to reverse it. Learn even more about gum disease and its impact on men’s overall health and share with the guys in your life you love.