Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Just One of Many Things Men Can Learn From Women: Oral Health

We've known for years that women outlive men — and we've known for years that good oral health translates rather directly into good overall health, including a longer life. What we've found out relatively recently is that those two facts might actually be related.

A study published in the April 2011 Journal of Periodontology examined the oral health habits of men vs. women, and discovered that one of the best ways to improve your oral health habits is to have a second X chromosome. On average:
  • Men brush their teeth 1.9 times per day — women: 2.5
  • Men lose 5.4 teeth by age 72 — women: 3.2
  • 53.1% of men said they have concerns about visiting the dentist — women: 41.1%
  • 57.6% of men said they only went to the dentist when they had a toothache — women: 46.9%
  • 61.2% of men said they "brush each tooth carefully" — women: 77.7%
The list of statistics goes on and on, but the implicit truth is clear; women pay more attention to their oral health than men. While no one is saying that the extra attention they give their oral health leads directly to women's longer lifespans, it certainly has merit as a contributing factor.

Among other things, that's because oral and throat cancer (caused by gum disease) is significantly more common in men than in women. Again, there's no evidence that the difference in cancer rates is directly related to the lack of attention the average man pays to his oral health, but it's a fairly easy conclusion to draw.

Some experts have argued that the extra care women take with their teeth is largely undone by the effects that progesterone has on increasing one's vulnerability to gum disease. The ladies at Dr. Johnson's office, on the other hand, think it's an opportunity for the men in our lives — one of many ways that, if they were just a little more like us, they might be a bit better off.

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