Battle Between the Sexes: Oral Health

You don't have to read the book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" to know that there are differences between the sexes in just about every area of life. Not surprisingly, those differences even extend to oral health, affecting everything from dentist visits to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Want to know how the sexes stack up when it comes to dental hygiene and oral health? Check out these results from a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Women are More Proactive When it Comes to Oral Health

The study found that women are generally more knowledgeable about how to maintain good oral health and the daily dental hygiene steps they ought to take. They do a better job making — and keeping — regular appointments with their dentist and take any follow-up treatment recommendations to heart. As a result, women had a lower incidence of bleeding gums, plaque and calculus, or tartar, on the teeth.

In general, women had a more positive attitude about dentist visits and oral hygiene, which is perhaps why their incidence of periodontal disease was significantly lower. Fewer than 40 percent of women, compared to 60 percent of men, develop periodontal disease during their lifetimes.

Men Have More Oral Health Risk Factors

According to the study, men tend to ignore routine dentist visits and only see the dentist if they develop an obvious problem. In fact, men tend to brush an average of just 1.9 times per day and lose about five teeth by the time they turn 72.

Smoking is another major oral health risk factor, a habit that affects nearly four times as many men as women, according to the World Health Organization. Men who smoke lose an average of 12 teeth by age 72 and have double the risk of oral cancer. Men also participate in risky activities more often, such as extreme sports and motorcycle riding, that have the potential for dental trauma and tooth loss. (Always remember to wear a mouth guard if you play sports!)

Hormones Affect Oral Health in Women

Women aren't in the clear, however, because the oral health changes caused by hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy and menopause can wreak havoc in a woman's mouth. Increased hormone levels are linked to gum inflammation, a precursor to periodontal disease, and even tempromandibular joint disorders. In fact, women account for about 90 percent of TMD sufferers.

Ultimately, good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are your best protection against gum disease and tooth loss, whether you're male or female. Why not make an appointment today to keep your oral health on track? Give us a call to schedule your next cleaning and exam.