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Shannon Koehle: Is Tooth Loss Associated With Pregnancy?

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By Shannon Koehle
EmpowHer.com Health Reporter

Miquel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, once wrote, “Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond.”

Assuming Cervantes was correct; mothers must protect their diamonds if they plan to keep them, according to a study composed by a New York University professor.

Dr. Stephanie Russell, an assistant professor of epidemiology and health promotion, examined more than 2,000 women between ages 18 and 64 who gave birth at least once and found a correlation between pregnancy and tooth loss.

As she said in a National Institutes of Health article, “This is the first time we’ve seen a connection between pregnancy and tooth loss affecting women at all socioeconomic levels.”

However, Dr. Howard Kotz who practices at Oceanside Family Dental in Long Island, New York, says he’s never heard nor seen this type of correlation before in his more than 20 years practicing dentistry.

However, he did add it’s possible.

While he agrees that some women do experience tooth loss after pregnancy, Kotz says, if women are experiencing tooth loss, they “just have bad teeth to begin with.”

Whether there is a specific connection between pregnancy and tooth loss or not, both Russell and Kotz say women, especially during pregnancy, need to take care of their teeth.

As Russell said to NIH, “. . . It is clear that women with multiple children need to be especially vigilant about their oral health.”

Pregnant women are more susceptible to pregnancy tumors and gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal disease, Kotz says.

Pregnancy tumors, overgrowth of the gum tissue, appear during the second trimester, says the American Dental Association. Most likely caused by excess plaque, these are swellings found between teeth and are often surgically removed after pregnancy.

Gingivitis is characterized by red, puffy gums that may bleed when brushed. Common in the second to eighth months, this is a sensitive reaction to plaque caused by increased levels of progesterone, says the ADA.

To keep one’s teeth and gums health during pregnancy, the ADA recommends brushing twice per day, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet, and receiving adequate amounts of nutrients, particularly calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.