Oral Wounds Heal Slower
in Women and Older Adults
Wounds in the mouth heal more slowly in women and
older adults, a new study at the University of Illinois at
`While wounds to the skin heal more quickly in women than in
men, our study suggested the opposite is true for healing of
wounds inside the mouth,' said Dr. Phillip Marucha, head of
periodontics at the UIC College of Dentistry. We discovered
that, regardless of age, men's mouth wounds heal faster than
Older women were at the highest risk for delayed healing,
their wounds closing half as slowly as younger men, Marucha
said. The findings of the study, he said, could have important
implications for surgical practices.
`There are an increasing number of surgical procedures being
performed in older populations,' Marucha said. `A greater
emphasis needs to be placed on accelerating the healing process.
Discovering the reasons behind these age and sex differences
will help us improve treatment, and postsurgical recovery times
may be reduced.'
The study consisted of creating a small, standardized circular
wound, half the diameter of a pencil, between the first and
second molar of 212 male and female volunteers aged 18 to 35
years and 50 to 88 years. The wounds were video graphed at the
same time for seven consecutive days to assess closure.
Testosterone may help mouth wounds heal faster in men,
said Christopher Engeland, research assistant professor at UIC
and lead author of the study. testosterone's a potent
anti-inflammatory hormone that is abundant in saliva,' he
said. Women are generally more prone to inflammatory diseases,
such as rheumatoid arthritis, Engeland said. In skin, women's
wounds heal faster than men's in part because inflammation
causes them to close faster.
`The more inflammation a person has inside the mouth, the slower
wounds appear to heal,' Engeland said. `We were surprised to
learn that oral wounds heal more slowly in women than in men.
It's one of the few times in the field of healing where men have
an advantage over women. This indicates that the healing process
in skin and mouth tissues is different in some fundamental way
not previously expected.'
[www.smile-on.com Friday 2nd February 2007]