Female gender is associated with dental care and dental hygiene, but not with complete dentition in the Swiss adult population

Coda Bertea, Paola ; Staehelin, Katharina ; Dratva, Julia ; Zemp Stutz, Elisabeth

In: Journal of Public Health, 2007, vol. 15, no. 5, p. 361-367

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    Aim: Little is known about the impact of gender on oral health, besides the influence of reproductive factors on female dentition. The aim of this study was to analyse gender differences with regard to oral health and oral health behaviour in the Swiss adult population, using data from the Swiss Health Survey of 2002. Subjects and methods: The Swiss Health Survey regularly collects detailed information on health and health determinants of a random sample of the Swiss population aged 15years and older. A written questionnaire including items on oral health was filled in by 7,115 men and 9,026 women in 2002. Weighted prevalence rates were calculated, and multivariate logistic regression analyses used to evaluate the role of gender for complete and functional dentition and for oral health behaviour. Finally, the multivariate model was stratified for men and women and run for the outcome "complete dentition”. Results: Women had a higher prevalence of visits to the dentist in the last 12 months (64% versus 60% men), of visits to dental hygienists (39% versus 34%), and of frequent tooth brushing (several times a day) (82% versus 66%). Adjusting for preventive behaviour, socio-demographic and socio-economic variables in multivariate analyses, female gender was positively associated with the prevalence of visits to the dentist (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.24-1.43) and of frequent tooth brushing several times a day (OR 2.57, 95% CI 2.36-2.79), but not with complete dentition (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.93-1.09). In the stratified analysis, associations of complete dentition with socio-economic status, oral hygiene and preventive behaviour were stronger in men than in women. Conclusion: Gender plays an important role in oral health. Adult women report a more pronounced preventive oral health behaviour than men; their dentition, however, is not more often complete. Mechanisms involved in women's oral health are probably more complex than those underlying men's oral health. An in-depth gender analysis is needed to shed more light upon this issue