The Importance of Parent Education and Early Childhood Cavity Prevention

Mother with ChildA new study links oral health problems in teens with poor levels of emotional health and education in mothers. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University, School of Dental Medicine suggest the oral health of teens directly relates to early education by primary care givers. While brushing and flossing go a long way in cavity prevention, researchers conclude parent education and the development of healthy lifestyles for their kids during early childhood are what ultimately make the difference in the oral health of teens.

Tooth Decay in Adolescents

Researchers examined the current oral health of teen subjects and worked backwards in their development to determine the true cause of their dental problems. Examining the teeth of 224 adolescents, researchers then looked at information gathered on each participant at age 3, 8, and 14. This includes information gathered on their mothers during the same time. Researchers counted decayed, filled, and missing permanent teeth in each teen. They also checked the level of dental plaque build-up in each participant. Researchers then tested the mother of each teen on her knowledge of preventive dental care and nutrition. The test included questions relating to sealants, mouthwash, sugary juice, soft drinks, and frequency of visits to the dentist.

What researchers found is common preventive treatment with fluoride and sealants as children, as well as access to dental insurance, did not necessarily prevent cavities in teens. Instead, researchers determined the emotional health and education of mothers when their children were young was a better determinant of whether their teens had cavities by age 14. According to the study, the difference between the numbers of cavities in teens directly relates to how much their primary care givers struggled during early years of their children’s development. Emotionally healthy mothers with better education, especially in terms of healthy eating, had children with less evidence of tooth decay in adolescence.

Pediatric Dentistry in Rochester

What this study shows is the burden of healthy teeth in children rests on the shoulders of their parents. A lifetime of healthy oral hygiene begins at an early age. Parents are responsible, with the help of their Rochester dentist, to develop habits that will serve their children well as they progress through adolescence and into adulthood. Dr. Calcagno is devoted to children’s dentistry and seeks to provide children not only with excellent dental care, but also with education on healthy nutrition that will carry with them through life.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment for you or your child with Dr. Calcagno, please call our Rochester dentist office at (507) 281-3659. We serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and the surrounding communities.