Sex and Oral Health

Perfect smile

A patient asked me recently how sex and oral health are related. My initial thought that came to mind was of halitosis . Bad breath could have a serious impact on your love life and be a mild symptom of a more serious condition . Good oral hygiene , flossing and regular dental check ups are the key to prevention. An attractive smile and fresh breath could have a much better outcome!

The question did made me wonder if we should be more aware of how our oral health can affect our sexual health and vice versa. As a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) specializing in Cosmetic Dentistry, I don’t usually get questions about anything below the neck, so I took a little time to look into it.

My research led me to a wide range of topics, from STD’s to the cure of depression (I’m sure you have heard about the study and women’s response calling it a male marketing plan). There is even new technology within forensic dentistry that shows that male and female teeth are different .

Most people think men’s teeth are bigger, although it has been shown it’s very hard to tell the difference by only looking. Male and female teeth size actually depend on the shape and size of the person, very important to a cosmetic dentist. Tooth decay is more prevalent in women and there have been many studies to prove it. The International Journal of Dentistry reported that women have a higher rate of decay because of things like salivary composition and flow, hormone fluctuation, and dietary habits. At a cellular level DNA in the tooth does differ and Amelogenin found in the enamel has a different size and pattern of the nucleotide sequence in male and female. Ok, it’s a little scientific, but I do find it interesting that there is a difference. I’m going to look at my male and female teeth a little differently from now on.

Moving on to STD’s it should be said to reduce the risk of infection during unprotected oral sex, limit exposure to sexual fluids and ensure that there are no cuts or lesions in the mouth . Protection is advised and includes the use of condoms and dental dams. A dental dam is a thin square of latex that can be used to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections during oral sex. They are called “dental” dams because they were designed as a protective measure for dentists, (working on a patients teeth I should add! ) Good oral health, free from bleeding gums, lip sores, cuts, broken skin and oral epithelium enormously reduces the chances of transmission of infection among the partners. A periodic oral health check up is necessary for people frequently involved in oral sex. Good oral hygiene is fundamental for oral integrity as it can greatly affect the quality of life.

This lead me to research promoted by many news articles that unprotected oral sex cures depression. The State of New York University is responsible for a study comparing 293 women’s sex lives to their mental health. It concluded that Chemicals in semen ‘promote mental well-being and feelings of affection’. Apparently semen fluid carries three “ingredients” that fight depression. The Women having unprotected sex were less depressed and scored higher on cognitive tests. News sources immediately reported that Oral Sex was good for your mood, but I have to say I read study did not involve oral sex . Hence the women’s claims of a male marketing plan! In other studies it has been proven that Smiling can also improve your mood , make you more attractive to others and make you happy! So protect yourself , visit your dentist regularly and SMILE is my advice for good sex and oral health !

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