Marie Kvicalova (UCL) - 2018-19 Students

Age-related differences in dental caries between men and women: Social and biological factors

Dental caries is a very common and frequent pathology that has accompanied humanity for tens of thousands of years. Frequently associated with the consumption of carbohydrates their presence has been employed by archaeologists to establish diets and subsistence. Many anthropological reports and studies in the past several decades have revealed differences in the prevalence of dental caries between men and women; Women are often said to exhibiting higher frequency and prevalence of the pathology. This variation has commonly been explained by social differences in diet and eating habits between the sexes, however, more recently a new research has suggested that female physiology is directly linked to caries initiation and propagation. If true, anthropological methods based on dental caries need to be revised and possibly a new approach to female oral care in modern dentistry should be suggested. However, lot of these studies and reports have not accounted for the role of age on the propagation of dental caries. Age has been shown to have a significant impact on tooth decay and ignoring it skews data and information.

It is necessary to understand whether these claims are based in rigorous and repeatable statistical results to be sure that a debate around causality of dental caries and differences in prevalence is warranted. To do so both present-day clinical and archaeological data will be examined and other crucial factors such as age and dental wear will be accounted for. The aim of this research is to answer whether there are and have been significant sexual differences in dental caries and if so whether social structure or physiology is the main underlying factor.

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