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News / May 30, 2008

Pregnancies linked to tooth loss

by Guy Hiscott

Women who have more children are more likely to suffer tooth loss, according to a new study.

The survey of 2,635 women in the US was carried out by Dr Stefanie Russell, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion and is published on the website of the American Journal of Public Health.

His findings suggest that profound biological and behavioural changesrelated to pregnancy and childbirth are likely to be a factor in tooth loss.

For example, as pregnancy can leave women prone to gingivitis, then repeated pregnancies could lead to tooth loss in women with periodontitis.

Also, women may postpone seeking dental treatment because of financial concerns related to having children and caring for more children may lead a mother to cut back on the time she devotes to her own oral health.

Dr Russell’s conclusions are based 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 US population.

‘This is the first time we’ve seen a connection between pregnancy and tooth loss affecting women at all socioeconomic levels in a large, heterogeneous sample of the US population,’ Dr. Russell said.

‘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 says.

‘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 that can be as simple as making sure a working mother gets time off from work to see the dentist.’