Sex-based Health Differences
the nearly 15 years since Exploring
the Biologic Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter? was released by the
Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences, a great deal
of effort has been applied to gender-based research, as greater knowledge in
this area benefits the health of both men and women across their lifespans.
differences are clearly evident in disease prevalence and outcome data, and
must inform both the nature and direction of research and the development of
treatments. For example:
are more likely to die following a heart attack than men.
affects more women than men.
of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women.
are more likely to have urinary tract problems.
oral health, of obvious and particular interest to ADEA and our members, sex
differences present in different ways. Of note:
caries, or tooth decay, rates are higher in women than in men.
suffer from certain oral diseases, such as Sjogren syndrome, that men do not.
research is generating new oral health knowledge in the areas of tooth loss and
edentulism, dental caries risk factors, Sjogren syndrome, xerostomia,
temporomandibular joint dysfunction, diabetes, obesity and taste, preterm birth
weight and periodontal disease, violence and abuse, and oral cancer. In 2014,
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also announced policies that require grant
applicants to submit sex and gender inclusion plans. This environment has
helped lay the foundation for a more robust focus on gender-based health
differences within dental curricula.
Yet while we have made
significant strides in building both awareness and an evidence base, much work
remains for dental and other health professions education. Specifically, there
is a need to dramatically expand the research base, and to establish
competencies for the inclusion of sex-based health differences in health
professions curricula that are increasingly delivered in an interprofessional
educational environment. ADEA continues its work to drive a fuller
understanding of the unique oral health conditions and disparities that women
face, and the reasons behind them, through a variety of products, symposia and