Gap toothed mummies...
The old wives tale may have been right after all! Researchers in America have found that women with the most children have lost the largest number of teeth. That old wives' tale of "gain a child, lose a tooth" could actually be true!
The study of 2,635 women showed that for each child born, their mother lost more teeth. Women aged 35 to 49 with no children had lost around two teeth on average. Those with one child missed around three teeth, while women with two children lacked four. The number of lost teeth increased to about five for three children and seven for four or more, suggesting some rather gap-toothed mothers out and about with their large broods….
"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 US population,” said the lead researcher, Dr Stefanie Russell, from New York University.
"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’s research was published in the American Journal of Public Health, and based on information on both black and white women aged 18 to 64 with at least one child.
She added that reasons for the tooth loss are likely to be the “profound biological and behavioural changes” associated with pregnancy. These include outbreaks of gingivitis (gum inflammation). It may also be true that caring for more children means that mothers cut back on how much time they devote to their own oral health.
One popular theory, that pregnancy weakens teeth as a result of calcium depletion, was "wholly unsupported" by scientific evidence, said Dr Russell, an assistant professor of Epidemiology and Health Promotion.
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.