Family Conflict May Equal Poor Oral Health

Families with a lot of verbal and physical conflict have more cavities and poorer oral health, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 135 families with elementary-age children and gave them questionnaires about interparental and parent-to-child physical and emotional aggression and harsh discipline. Dental hygienists determined the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth in each of the family members.

The more conflict the men and women had with their respective partner, the more cavities they had, according to the study, which was published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Children whose mothers showed emotional aggression toward their partner also had more cavities.

"Family oral health may suffer because noxious behaviors create an emotional environment that undermines organized routines such as regular tooth brushing, parents’ socialization of children’s tooth brushing and healthy eating," the researchers wrote. "For example, after an intense conflict, a parent may be more preoccupied with his or own emotional state than with enforcing a child’s tooth brushing or preparing a healthy meal. The stress of family hostility also may promote ‘stress eating,’ which may include sugars and other cariogenic foods."

To prevent tooth loss and maintain healthy teeth, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth, allowing you to reach all areas easily.

The ADA also recommends replacing your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Also, make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.

Flossing is also an essential part of any oral health care routine. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to achieve optimal oral health.

By flossing daily, you help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where the toothbrush can't reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

For more tips on how to achieve good oral health, visit www.MouthHealth.com/nutrition.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.