Washington, May 30 : The old wives' tale 'for every child the mother loses a tooth' may hold a lot of truth after all, for a new study has found that women who give birth to more children tend to lose more teeth during their lives.
The nationwide study of 2,635 women by Dr. Stefanie Russell, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, bases its conclusion on information on white and black non-Hispanic women ages 18-64 who reported at least one pregnancy in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a representative study of the U.S. population.
Results showed that women aged 35 to 49 with no children had lost around two teeth on average.
Those with one child were missing around three teeth, while women with two children lacked four. The number of lost teeth increased to about five (three children) and seven (four or more children).
"This is the first time we've seen a connection between pregnancy and tooth loss affecting women at all socio-economic levels in a large, heterogeneous sample of the U.S. population," Dr. Russell said.
Profound biological and behavioral changes related to pregnancy and childbirth are likely to be a factor in tooth loss, she added.
"Although further research is needed on the specific reasons for the link between pregnancy and tooth loss, it is clear that women with multiple children need to be especially vigilant about their oral health," Dr. Russell said.
"We, as a society, need to be more aware of the challenges that women with children may face in getting access to dental care. That means offering these women the resources and support they need - which can be as simple as making sure a working mother gets time off from work to see the dentist," she added.
The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.