Larger Families Can Mean Fewer Teeth for Moms

Moms are well known for giving everything to their families. It seems that, for women with larger families, that may even include their teeth. That’s according to a new European study that shows women with larger families are more likely to lose teeth than women with smaller families. The findings show that women with three kids had, on average, four fewer teeth than women with two kids.

More Children, Fewer Teeth for Moms | Irvine Dentist

A Continent Worth of Data

This study started with a huge pool of data from 27 European countries plus Israel, related to more than 120,000 adults. However, not all the population had tooth data and full reproductive history. That sample size was a little smaller, just under 35,000 respondents from 13 European countries and Israel.

The data comes from Wave 5 of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The first wave of data came from 2004. Wave 6 data is currently available, Wave 7 is in progress, and Wave 8 is being planned.

However, when this raw data was broken down for more detailed analysis, the groups got smaller and smaller. This means that some of the insights may not be as valid as the initial large sample size might lead us to believe.

Looking at Tooth Loss

With the SHARE Wave 5 data containing all the information needed to look at the question of family size and tooth loss, researchers could look at that, but it’s not the only factor related to tooth loss they considered. The average age of respondents in Wave 5 was 67, and the average respondent had lost 10 teeth. The group that had lost the fewest teeth were women in their 50s and 60s, while men tended to have higher tooth loss at all age levels. Men age 80 and up had lost an average of 19 teeth. Education level was associated with lower tooth loss risk in women, but not men, according to this analysis.

Researchers tried to mimic the effectiveness of a randomized clinical trial (RCT) by selecting an exposure factor and only looking at how people in that situation were impacted. They looked at families that had twins, triplets, or two children of the same sex, and then looked at the impact of having another child on the oral health of the parents. There seemed to be no impact on the father’s oral health, but mothers saw a marked impact–measurable with increased risk of tooth loss.

Why More Children Could Lead to Fewer Teeth

Even given that we are supposed to approach these results with caution, there are several potential reasons why women with more children might end up with a higher risk of tooth loss than those with fewer children.

First, the difference could be pregnancy itself. Women undergo hormonal changes when pregnant that can increase their risk of gum disease. This could contribute directly to their risk of tooth loss.

On the other hand, it may be their response to pregnancy. Many women avoid preventive dental care during pregnancy. That’s because they believe that dental visits during pregnancy might increase risks for the fetus.

And then there’s the possibility that women really are sacrificing themselves for their family. With more children, all the family’s resources can become limited: time, money, effort, food, etc. This can lead to changes that might put women’s teeth at risk from any number of causes: poor oral hygiene, fewer dental visits, more processed food, and more.

You Don’t Have to Give up Your Teeth for Your Family

The good news is that this study’s results don’t have to be true for you. You can have a large family and a healthy, beautiful smile.

If you are looking for a dentist in Orange County who can help you maintain your oral health, please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.