Women and oral health

Begnell P, Anderson R, O'Halloran A.
Published: July 2016
Series: Issues Paper

Oral health is necessary for good quality of life and encompasses more than just having healthy teeth.

Without good oral health, everyday functions such as eating, speaking and socialising can be difficult. Sex and gender differences interact to influence oral health risk factors, indicators, conditions and ways of using health care. Oral health is also strongly influenced by other social determinants of health, in particular socio-economic status.

This paper highlights the issues that women face with their oral health, in particular:

·         Women have higher rates of decayed, filled or missing teeth due to tooth decay

·         Women on average have more missing teeth than men and are more likely to have few or no natural teeth

·         Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy, can lead to increased risk for various types of gum disease, and have been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth

·         Women are more likely to experience dental erosion due to eating disorders

·         Women may suffer from head, face and neck injuries and dental neglect arising from intimate partner violence

·         Women are more likely than men to report experiencing financial barriers or hardship related to visiting a dentist and over a third of women report avoiding or delaying dental care due to cost.


Begnell P, Anderson R, O'Halloran A (2016) Women and oral health. Women's Health Victoria. Melbourne. - (Women's Health Issues Paper; 10)

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