Women Suffer Greater Dental Decline

Nov 19, 2008 | Contact Author | By: Katie Schaefer
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Title: Women Suffer Greater Dental Decline
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Women suffer a greater dental decline as a result of hormones, according to a report by Science Daily. The report focused on a study by John R. Lukacs, a professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon, who specializes in dental, skeletal and nutritional issues and found a link between sex and dental health. Lukacs' study, published in the October issue of Current Anthropology, links dramatic changes in female-specific hormones with a higher frequency of dental caries.

The study examined the records of the frequencies of dental cavities in both prehistoric and living human populations around the world. According to the study, reproduction pressures and rising fertility explain why women suffered a more rapid decline in dental health than did men as humans transitioned from hunter-and-gatherers to farmers and more sedentary pursuits.

It was discovered that women typically experience poorer dental health than men. According to Lukacs, studies published this year in the Philippines and in Guatemala point to the same findings.

Previously, anthropologist have attributed an increase in cavities to a change in food production by agrarian societies. Lukacs, however, finds that the adoption of agriculture has increased demands on female fertility and sedentism, leading to an increase in poor dental health due to diet and hormonal levels. Therefore, increased fertility, dietary changes and division of labor during the move into agricultural societies contributed to the widespread gender differential observed in dental caries rates today.

Female hormones, according to Lukacs, can impact cavity formation. Higher levels of estrogen, including fluctuations at puberty and high levels during pregnancy are said by Lukacs to promote cavities and dietary changes. Lukacs also found that women produce less saliva than do men, reducing the removal of food residue from the teeth.

If Lukacs' findings are correct, and women do experience poorer dental health as a result of hormones and diet issues, the future of female-specific oral care products could be just on the horizon.