The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, looked at almost 35,000 people with an average age of 67 across Europe.
It found that mothers who had a third child were significantly more likely to experience missing teeth, although this wasn’t the same for fathers.
The authors put this down to the impact of pregnancy on the mother’s body and the tendency to prioritise their children’s health over their own.
‘On the basis of our findings, enhanced promotion of oral hygiene, tooth friendly nutrition and regular (preventive) dental attendance – specifically targeted at expecting and parenting mothers – seem to be sensible strategies for clinicians and health policy,’ the authors concluded.
Oral health confusion
Recent studies have also revealed confusion from mothers over when to take their children to the dentist.
Just 13% of surveyed mothers believe they should first take their baby to the dentist at six months of age, while 72% of mothers said they have never seen any information on gum care for babies.
The study also showed a lack of information from health professionals on baby oral care and teething.
‘A lifetime’s good oral health starts from birth, with care of baby’s gums and emerging teeth and supervised brushing to at least eight years of age’, commented Professor Liz Kay MBE, foundation dean Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University.
‘Getting the whole family involved is crucial, because if parents and grandparents are not providing dental care and good oral health role models, a child’s teeth are pretty much doomed.
‘It is a national outrage that, in this country, there have been more than 34,000 tooth extractions per year for the last two years in children under the age of nine, most in hospital under general anaesthetic.
‘This recent survey serves to emphasise the importance of good oral care and hygiene from the very earliest age.’