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Tooth loss risk for mothers

Wednesday March 14th, 2018

Women face increased risk of tooth loss through having children, researchers claim today.

The study examined oral health among mothers and fathers. The researchers, led by Professor Stefan Listl of Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, state that: "Tooth loss imposes a substantial burden on peoples' quality of life."

In the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health today (14 March) they report that people with more children tend to have more missing teeth, as in the saying "gain a child loose a tooth", but until now there is no causal evidence for or against this belief.

They analysed figures from a large study called the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe. This included 34,843 men and women aged 50 years or above, living in 14 European countries and Israel. On average, participants reported in a survey that they were missing an average of ten teeth.

This "detected a strong causal relationship between the number of children and teeth for women, but not for men", but only when a third birth took place after the first two children had the same sex.

Women in this group had an average of 4.27 fewer teeth than women with a third birth whose first two children had different sexes.

The researchers say this suggests that an additional child might be detrimental to the mother's, but the not the father's, oral health. They add that their results should be interpreted with caution and taken as evidence that only applies to this small group.

They would like to see more research into the contribution of parenting (rather than pregnancy) to oral health.

Gabel, F. et al. Gain a child, lose a tooth? Using natural experiments to distinguish between fact and fiction. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 14 March 2018 doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-210210

Link: http://jech.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/jech-2017-210210

Tags: Europe | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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