The tooth about old wives’ dental tales

An article written in The Telegraph by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor, highlights that the old wives’ tale “gain a child and lose a tooth” is true, according to research.

She writes: The notion that tooth loss is associated with pregnancy has been around for hundreds of years, but there has been little proof until now.

Researchers have discovered that women who have three children are likely to have fewer teeth than mothers with two children. It is thought that pregnancy hormones interfere with calcium absorption, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay and gum disease.

Pregnancy cravings may also play their part, making women more likely to eat sugary or acidic treats. Writing in the Journal of Epidemology & Community Health, Prof Stefan Listl, of Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands, said: “Our study provides unique and novel evidence for causal links between the number of natural children and missing teeth.

He suggested dentists focus on advising expectant mothers about oral hygiene, nutrition and regular dental visits. His team also found that having a third child after two of the same sex was associated with significantly more missing teeth for women when compared with mothers whose first two children were of different sexes.

Tooth loss increased with age, ranging from nearly seven fewer teeth for women in their 50s and 60s up to 19 fewer teeth for men aged 80 and older.

The research team also found links between higher levels of educational attainment and tooth loss, which was statistically lower than those women who had not achieved higher levels of educational attainment.


You can access and read the paper in full by following the link:


Childhood socioeconomic conditions and teeth in older adulthood: Evidence from SHARE wave 5 (pages 78–87)

Stefan Listl, Jonathan M. Broadbent, W. Murray Thomson, Christian Stock, Jing Shen, Jimmy Steele, John Wildman, Anja Heilmann, Richard G. Watt, Georgios Tsakos, Marco A. Peres, Geert van der Heijden and Hendrik Jürges

Version of Record online: 19 SEP 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/cdoe.12332

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