Why women have better oral hygiene and still have less healthy teeth
Life is unfair. Women brush their teeth more often and more thoroughly than men. Nevertheless, it has been proven that men areless likely to suffer from caries or jaw joint problems. We explain why.
Men lose fewer teeth in a lifetime than women. On the other hand, men suffer more frequently from periodontitis or tooth neck caries. Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues have created a guide to explain why that’s the case and where the gender-specific differences lie. The article is based on the latest Gender Dentistry International research. Gender science is quite young, as only recently it has been suggested that teeth cannot remain genderless after all.
A Look Through The Gender Glass
Women and men are different species. Even if they are sick, their bodies react differently. Men, for example, suffer heart attacks on average four times more commonly than women. Women lose more teeth and are more liable to infections. Both genders respond differently to medication, deal differently with being sick, have different doctor-patient relationships and anxieties. It is now acknowledged that the symptoms and progression of many illnesses are gender-specific. The most recent oral health studies show that women are more often affected by tooth decay, tooth loss, toothlessness and temporomandibular joint diseases, whereas men more often suffer from periodontitis, root caries and erosive tooth substance defects. However, little is known about the causes. Research on this matter is still very young.
What are the exact gender differences?
Despite better oral hygiene, women do not have better teeth. Scientists believe that hormonal changes have a significant impact on dental health of a female. An increase in estrogen levels, triggered by puberty, changes the structure of saliva, so that its caries-protective effect is less strong. With young girls the change of teeth also starts earlier and the teeth may be exposed to a carious environment for a longer period. To clear the status quo, let’s look at the human life phases:
While boys and girls suffer from caries equally frequently in childhood, this changes with puberty. Across Germany, 15-year-old girls have a significantly higher caries value (2.0) than boys (1.6) (source: DMS IV 2006).
This trend unfortunately continues in adulthood. Here, too, women show significantly more carious defects and a higher loss of teeth. Pregnancy seems to be partly to blame for this situation, if the hormones have an effect. The connective tissue becomes loose; organs as well as the oral mucosa are better supplied with blood. Many women complain about bleeding gums; inflammations can also occur, which can develop into periodontitis if untreated. The old saying “Every child costs a tooth” is confirmed by science.
Men, on the other hand, suffer more from root caries (25.9%) than women (17.0%) (source: DMS IV 2006).
The reason lies in the fact that men are significantly more often affected by severe periodontal disease, and bacteria can thus pass to the tooth root, if the inflammation remains untreated.
In the senior age male show better results. When it comes to tooth loss, which is a possible end point of tooth decay or gum disease, the significant influence of gender becomes clear. Female teeth have to be removed much more frequently, the average value is 14.9 (female) compared to 13.3 (male)
What does this mean for the Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues?
At our Dental Clinic we have been considering the need for gender-specific clarification and applying the appropriate treatment for a long time. Females, for instance, require more emphatic and more intensive care due to their higher average of anxiety, as well as sedation for major surgical interventions. During pregnancy, a closer control and teeth cleaning is recommended in order to prevent periodontitis and the associated higher risk of premature birth.
Since males show a higher risk of suffering from bacterial chronic periodontitis (which can trigger a heart attack) antibiotic and sustainable treatment is a standard.