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Calcium and Nursing Mothers' Oral Health

Calcium Is Important For Nursing Mothers' Oral Health

January 29, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 9, 2007

CHICAGO - Mothers who breastfeed should be sure to have enough calcium in their diet or they may risk bone loss around their teeth and gums, according to a new study in the January issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP).
Take Action
Boost your calcium intake
  • Consult your doctor to discuss your calcium and other nutrient needs, based on your health history and risk factors, and the best way to meet them.
  • Read food labels – the nutrition facts listed on food labels can tell what percentage of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium and vitamin D the food provides.
  • Women ages 19 – 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 milligrams of Vitamin D daily.


  • Researchers from Tohoku University in Japan investigated if lactation affects alveolar bone loss, the bone surrounding the roots of teeth, in rat models of experimental periodontitis. They found that mothers who are lactating could put the bone structures around their teeth at risk, especially when there was not enough calcium in their diet.

    “Our research emphasized the importance of having a high-calcium diet while breast-feeding,” said Dr. Kanako Shoji, Division of Periodontology and Endodontology at Tohoku University. “While our study was on a rat population, the evidence confirmed that breastfeeding can cause increased bone loss in the mother, especially when the mother has insufficient calcium intake. But additional studies in human populations are necessary to confirm these findings.”

    The study showed that all groups with insufficient calcium intake saw an acute inflammatory reaction in periodontal tissues and disruption of the gingival epithelium, the tissues surrounding the teeth, in addition to increased attachment loss, and increased alveolar bone loss. Those groups which were lactating saw even greater attachment loss and bone loss.

    “We know a high-calcium diet can promote healthy teeth and gums,” said Dr. Preston D. Miller, DDS, President of the American Academy of Periodontology, “But this research indicates that nursing mothers should be especially conscious of having enough calcium in their diet. While breast milk is critical to their baby’s bone development, mothers should be sure to have enough calcium or risk bone loss in the mouth, which can worsen periodontal disease. Given that a thorough periodontal evaluation should be done as soon as a woman finds out that she is pregnant, monitoring periodontal tissues, including more frequent cleanings during pregnancy and continuing until 3 months after delivery, will help assure periodontal health.”

    Visit the AAP website, www.perio.org, for a referral to a periodontist and free brochure titled Maintaining Periodontal Health Throughout a Woman’s Life. Or call 800/FLOSS-EM (800.356-7736) toll-free.

    The American Academy of Periodontology is an 8,000-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
    CONTACT INFORMATION:
    Kerry Gutshall
    The American Academy of Periodontology
    Phone: 312.573.3243
    Fax: 312.573.3234
    http://www.perio.org

    EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of the JOP article titled “Effects of lactation on alveolar bone loss in experimental periodontitis” is available to the media by contacting the AAP Public Affairs Department at 312/573-3243. The public and/or non-AAP members can view a study abstract online, and the full-text of the study may be accessed online for $20.00 at http://www.joponline.org/.

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