Women winning the battle of the sexes when it comes to periodontal health

May 11, 2011
Research indicates that women have better knowledge of periodontal health and are more committed to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

CHICAGO, May 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The differences between men and women are extensive, especially when it comes to taking care of one's health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), compared to men, women are better about seeing their physician for routine check-ups and are more likely to schedule a doctor visit when feeling sick or injured. And now, new research published in the Journal of Periodontology reveals another area where women are more proactive than men: in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

According to the study, published in April 2011, women are almost twice as likely to have received a regular dental check-up in the past year. In addition, women were more likely to schedule the recommended treatment following the dental check-up. Women in the study also had better indicators of periodontal health, including lower incidence of dental plaque, calculus, and bleeding on probing — all of which can be used as markers of periodontal disease.

The study also suggested that women have a better understanding of what oral health entails, as well as a more positive attitude toward dental visits.

The study included more than 800 participants between the ages of 18 and 19. Participants were asked to complete a written questionnaire concerning lifestyle, dental knowledge, dental attitude, and oral health behaviors. In addition, the participants underwent an oral examination to assess for indicators of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. In addition, previous research has associated gum disease with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

"It is crucial that everyone — both men and women — strive to maintain periodontal health," says Donald S. Clem, DDS, a periodontist in private practice in Fullerton, Calif., and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "With increasing research indicating that one's periodontal health may be related to overall health, never has it been more important to ensure the health of your teeth and gums. You cannot be healthy unless you are periodontally healthy."

Dr. Clem stressed the importance of routine oral care in helping to prevent periodontal disease. "Taking good care of your periodontal health involves daily tooth brushing and flossing. You should also expect to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year," he advised. A dental professional, such as a periodontist — a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gum disease — can conduct a comprehensive exam to assess your periodontal disease status.

To assess your risk for periodontal disease or to learn more, visit perio.org.

Periodontal health: women vs. men

  • Women are 26% more likely than men to floss on a daily basis.
  • 74% of women would be embarrassed by a missing tooth, a possible consequence of periodontal disease, compared to 57% of men.
  • Women are almost twice as likely as men to notice missing teeth on another person.
  • 44% of women are aware that periodontists can help contribute to overall good health, compared to 33% of men.

Study information:

Furuta, Michiko; Ekuni, Daisuke; Irie, Koichiro; Azuma, Tetsuji; Tomofuji, Takaaki; Ogura, Toshio; Morita, Manabu, 2011. Gender differences in gingivitis relate to interaction of oral health behaviors in young people. Journal of Periodontology 82(4): 558-565.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is the professional organization for periodontists — specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistry's experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school, and periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAP has 8,000 members worldwide.