Gain a Child, Lose a Tooth - A Truism In Nigeria's North

There's a widespread customary belief that having an increasing number of children results in tooth loss. "Gain a child, lose a tooth", or "for every child, a tooth is lost" are common proverbs in many societies. The biological basis of these beliefs is still questioned, writes Elizabeth Oziegbe for The Conversation.

Childbearing has an impact on women's health, and the impact grows with the number of times a woman has been pregnant for longer than 24 weeks. Pregnancy and breastfeeding put energy demands on a woman and can cause permanent changes to a mother's health.

A study conducted on rural women in northern Nigeria looked at how age, reproductive and socioeconomic factors, and oral health practices contributed to tooth loss. It involved 612 women who live in rural northern Nigeria. They were between the ages of 13-65. They all identified as Hausa. 

The study found that women with more than five children lost more teeth than women of the same age who'd had fewer children. The study also highlighted the need to give more attention to the oral health of women during the reproductive years, in particular those who have many children. 

Generally in Nigeria, the use of dental care services is poor, due to the limited availability and accessibility to oral health clinics. 


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