Introduction Gender differences have been documented in prevalence and morbidity of caries, gingivitis and oral health, but not previously in cervicofacial infection. Identification and minimisation of gender inequalities is a World Health Organisation priority, and there are physiological, behavioural and cultural reasons to suspect that sex and gender differences may be present.
Methods Analysis was carried out of the MTReC National Snapshot audit of cervicofacial infections. This database was created by oral and maxillofacial surgery trainees in 2017 and records over 400 variables in 1,002 individual patients admitted to hospital with severe odontogenic infection.
Results Records were available for 1,002 patients with cervicofacial infection (456 females and 546 males). There were significant differences between recorded gender in those presenting with airway compromise (male 7% vs female 2%, p = 0.001), severe inflammatory response syndrome (male 60% vs female 39%, p = 0.007) and requirement for awake fibre-optic intubation on admission (male 4% vs female 1%, p = 0.014).
Discussion These results suggest that male patients access healthcare later in their disease than female patients, and with more severe systemic compromise. This may be due to prevalent cultural and behavioural norms. As equality of access is the responsibility of the administrator, we discuss methods which might improve timely presentation in males with cervicofacial infections.
Gender and sex differences exist in the presentation and management of severe dental infections, as with other common oral health conditions.
Males seem to present to hospital with more severe disease than females and appear more likely to require immediate airway management.
Reducing this gender inequality is the responsibility of the healthcare provider and strategies to minimise these effects are discussed.
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Kent, S., Regan, A., McDonald, C. et al. Gender differences in patients with severe dental infections presenting to hospital. Br Dent J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2351-7