Mums impact on teen oral health

That’s according to a new study from the States.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University's School of Dental Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, looked at the oral health of the teens and worked backwards to age three to find out what factors in their past influenced their oral health outcomes.

The team examined the teeth of 224 adolescent participants in a longitudinal study that followed very low birth weight and normal birth weight children.

Over the years, researchers gathered health and medical information from the children and their mothers to assess the child's wellbeing at age three, eight and now 14.

The researchers analysed the teenagers’ oral health by counting the number of decayed, filled or missing permanent teeth and assessed the level of dental plaque.

Mothers completed a questionnaire about preventive treatments – from sealants to mouthwashes, sugary juice or soft drink consumption and access to dental care and frequency of dental visits.

The data revealed that, even with access to dental insurance, fluoride treatments and sealants as young children, it did not always prevent cavities by the age of 14.

Using a statistical modelling programme that tracks pathways from the teen's dental assessments back to the source of where the oral health originated, researchers were led to mothers and their overall emotional health, education level and knowledge when children were at ages three and eight.

They found that if mothers struggled in any of the three areas, the oral health of the teens at age 14 resulted in higher numbers of oral health problems.

Suchitra Nelson is lead investigator on the Journal of Dental Research article, Early Maternal Psychosocial Factors are Predictors for Adolescent Caries.

She said: ‘We can't ignore the environments of these children. It isn't enough to tell children to brush and floss, they need more – and particularly from their caregivers.’

It was found that mothers with more education beyond high school, with healthy emotional states and knowledge about eating right had children with healthier teeth.

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