Difficult experiences in childhood can put kids at risk for cavities, according to a study published in the journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.
The study used data from a national survey on US child health. Researchers looked at two dental health measures:
- the condition of each child’s teeth; and,
- whether a child had cavities or a toothache in the 12 months before the study.
The study also looked at each child’s exposure to certain difficult events:
- parents divorcing;
- parent sent to prison;
- domestic violence;
- neighbourhood violence;
- drug or alcohol abuse by one or both parents;
- mental illness of one or both parents; and,
- financial hardship.
Children who had been through at least one of these events were more likely to have poor dental health. Multiple difficult events increased risk even more than a single event. Children who had been through difficult events were up to two-and-a-half times as likely to have poor dental health as children who had not experienced any.
The study took into account many factors that are already linked with cavity risk. Researchers suggest that knowing which children have been through difficult events may help dentists to prevent cavities in these children.