The Biological Injustice: Why do women have worse teeth than men?

As a dentist, I am happy about every patient who comes to my practice with healthy teeth. And this especially with women, because the burden of the "small difference" in dental health accompanies them throughout their lives. According to the results of the market research institute YouGov, for 74% of women, dental care and oral hygiene is important, for men it is only 59%. 41% of women oral hygiene is even very important, while only 24% of men. One thing is certain: Women generally live more health-conscious lives - smoke and drink less and exercise more - come to my practice much more often for preventive care and devote much more attention and time to their dental care.

Nevertheless, female dentition is often in worse condition than that of men. My experience in practice confirms this: Problems with teeth are an annoying ongoing issue for many women.

In many areas of health, women prove to be the stronger sex: female infants are sick less often, women suffer from chronic diseases only half as often.

Only in one area are women really the "weaker sex," namely when it comes to dental health. However, the cause is rarely to be found in lifestyle but rather in female biology. When it comes to dental health, a natural disadvantage of women becomes obvious. This realization has not been in the minds of scientists and dentists for that long, although some 50 international studies over the past 30 years point to this gender gap.


Gender gap in dental health

Men are more lax in oral hygiene, less likely to visit the dentist and have more plaque. As a result, they are significantly more likely to suffer from inflammatory gum disease. But although women practice significantly better dental hygiene, they do not have better teeth and suffer significantly more tooth loss. Women as young as 20 have on average one tooth fewer than men of that age. These divergences are an international phenomenon. This is documented by studies from European countries, the USA and so-called developing countries.

In terms of dental health, young girls between the ages of 14 and 15 are already falling behind, triggered by puberty. This biological lag increases significantly over the years of life. The DMF-T index shows that women between the ages of 35 and 44 have 15.1 decayed teeth, while men have only 14. In addition, women have to have teeth extracted more often than men. Women tend to have fewer teeth than men. Between the ages of 65 and 74, the true extent of the unfavorable situation for us women becomes apparent, with more frequent toothlessness. (The mean value of missing teeth at this age is 13.3 in men, in women it is almost 15).

This has causes that cannot be explained by oral hygiene alone. Obviously, the weakness of teeth in us women is due to hormonal balance. It already starts with the maturity of the permanent teeth. Women's teeth are thus exposed to a caries-causing environment in the mouth for longer. In women, the saliva composition changes during puberty due to hormonal reasons: the caries protective effect is lower than in men.

 

Hormonal fluctuations affect the teeth


Receptors for progesterone and estrogens are located in the gums of women. A constant correlation between hormonal fluctuations can therefore have a direct effect on the dental environment.

There seems to be more to the popular saying "pregnancy costs a tooth" than women might like. A study conducted by Yale University in 2008 points this out: there was one tooth less per birth - and this was independent of psychosocial factors or dental care. There are many possible reasons for this. For one thing, the immune defense system is lowered during pregnancy and the connective tissue is loosened and blood flow increases. Very often during pregnancy, the gums show inflammatory changes (gingivitis) and existing periodontitis is intensified. The increased blood sugar level also increases the susceptibility to inflammation.

Women planning and desiring pregnancy should be especially mindful of their dental health, as some dental procedures cannot be performed during pregnancy for the well-being of the child. Preventive action seems all the more important in light of the study conducted by the International Association for Dental Research in Washington, D.C.: in periodontally healthy women, 7.2% of pregnancies resulted in a birth before the 35th week of gestation, compared to 23.4% in periodontally diseased women. Even if the causal relationship could not be clarified, these figures are alarming.


Menopause - strenuous times also for the teeth


The fact that women have hormone receptors in their gums means that the menopause is also a turbulent time for dental health and dental health. Superficial gum inflammation can take its toll on oral health. After the age of 40, periodontitis is a major cause of tooth loss. However, I have also observed that teeth that were in a desolate and shaky condition have been strengthened by appropriate periodontal therapy. Nevertheless, women's menopause remains a critical time for their dental health and preservation.

Unfortunately, things don't really get better afterwards: because the lower level of hormones in the body has a negative effect on the bone substance and thus also on the teeth. Dry mouth reduces the natural protective and remineralizing function of saliva and promotes the development of caries.

There are many more gender-specific factors, to list them would go beyond the scope, the topic is simply very complex. Therefore, I would like to make it as easy as possible for you to optimally care for the health and beauty of your teeth with the new dental care series from SNOW PEARL.



Do you have any questions? Then write to me!
I am happy to answer your questions.

Yours, Lorenza Dahm

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