Biological injustice: why do women have worse teeth than men?

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As a dentist, I am happy about every patient who comes to my practice with healthy teeth. And this in particular for women, because the burden of the "little difference" in dental health accompanies them all their lives. According to the results of the market research institute YouGov, dental care and oral hygiene are important for 74% of women, compared to only 59% of men. Oral hygiene is very important to 41% of women, compared to 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 for preventive care much more often and devote much more attention and time to their dental care.

Nevertheless, the female teeth are often in a worse condition than those of men. My practical experience confirms that problems with teeth are an annoying constant topic for many women.

In many areas of health, women are proving to be the stronger sex: female small children are less likely to be ill, and women are only half as likely to suffer from chronic diseases.

Gender gap in dental health

Men are more sloppy about oral hygiene, visit the dentist less often and have more plaque. Therefore, they suffer significantly more often from inflammatory gum diseases. But although women practice significantly better dental hygiene, they do not have better teeth and suffer significantly more from tooth loss. On average, 20-year-old women already have one tooth less than men of this age. These divergences are an international phenomenon. This is documented by studies from European countries, the USA and so-called developing countries.

When it comes to dental health, young girls between the ages of 14 and 15 are already falling behind, triggered by puberty. This biological disadvantage 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 only have 14. In addition, women have to have their 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 situation, which is unfavorable for us women, becomes apparent with more frequent toothlessness. (The mean number of missing teeth at this age is 13,3 for men, for women it is almost 15).

This has causes that cannot be explained by oral hygiene alone. Apparently, the weakness of the teeth in us women is due to the hormonal balance. It starts with the maturity of the permanent teeth. Women's teeth are therefore longer exposed to an environment in the mouth that causes caries. In women, the composition of saliva changes during puberty due to hormones: the protective effect against caries is lower than in men.

 

Hormonal fluctuations get on your teeth

In the gums of women are receptors for progesterone and estrogen. A constant correlation between hormonal fluctuations can therefore have a direct impact on the dental environment.

At the vernacular "Pregnancy costs a tooth" there seems to be more to it than women would like. This is indicated by a study by Yale University from 2008: there was one tooth less per birth - and this was independent of psychosocial factors or dental care. There are many possible reasons: On the one hand, the immune system is shut down during pregnancy and the connective tissue is loosened and the blood supply increases. The gums very often show inflammatory changes during pregnancy (gingivitis) and an existing periodontitis is exacerbated. The increased blood sugar level also increases the susceptibility to inflammation.

Women planning and wishing to become pregnant should take special care of their dental health as some dental procedures cannot be performed during pregnancy for the benefit of the child. Preventive action seems all the more important against the background of the study by the International Association for Dental Research in Washington DC: 7,2% of pregnancies in periodontally healthy women gave birth before the 35th week of pregnancy, but in women with periodontally diseased women at 23,4%. Even if the causal relationships could not be clarified, these figures are questionable.

 

Menopause – strenuous times for the teeth too

The fact that women have hormone receptors in their gums makes the menopause a turbulent time for dental health and dentition. Superficial gingivitis can seriously affect oral health. From the age of 40, periodontitis is a major cause of tooth loss. However, I was also able to observe that teeth that were in a desolate and shaky condition were strengthened again through appropriate periodontal therapy. Nevertheless, women's menopause remains a critical time for their dental health and tooth retention.

Unfortunately, it doesn't really get any better afterwards either: because the lower hormone levels in the body have 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 tooth decay.

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

 

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