The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Is motherhood bad for oral health? Effects of parity on periodontal disease, caries and tooth loss in US women


Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, New York University College of Dentistry

Saturday 2:00-2:15, Galleria South Add to calendar

STEFANIE LUISE RUSSELL1 1. New York University College of Dentistry, NY, NY Introduction: The old wives’ tale “for every child, the mother loses a tooth,” is a pervasive belief in many cultures that tooth loss is a natural consequence of childbearing. We hypothesized that increased parity was related to periodontitis and caries, and to increased tooth loss, through both biological and non-biological pathways. Methods: Using data collected from 2635 white and black non-Hispanic women age 18-64 selected from the Third National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, we tested an a priori theoretical model that specified that, controlling for age, socioeconomic status and diabetes, parity is related to increased periodontal disease, caries and tooth loss, and that effects of parity are both direct (that is, biological) and indirect (non-biological, including dental care, psychosocial factors, and dental health damaging behaviors). Results: Path models indicated that increased parity was associated with tooth loss (robust β=.12), increased periodontal disease levels (robust β=.07), and untreated dental caries (robust β=.08)(all p≤0.001). The impact of parity on both tooth loss and on periodontal disease outweighed the effects of smoking, a major risk factor for both these conditions. Parity was unrelated to dental care, psychosocial factors or dental health damaging behaviors in this sample. Conclusions: Parity is strongly related to dental diseases and to tooth loss in US women, but the mechanisms remain undefined. Further investigations that include both women and men are needed to clarify the effects of sex/gender and parity on dental health.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, T32-DE014320

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