Study: Childhood Oral Health Linked to Adult Oral Health

Factors affecting oral health in childhood influence the oral health quality of life in adulthood, according to a study published in the British Dental Journal in August.

The study was conducted by researchers from two universities, the University of Otago in New Zealand and the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

“The study aim was to explore possible pathways of oral health from birth to adulthood (age 38 years),” the authors. “We hypothesized that higher socioeconomic position in childhood would predict favorable oral health beliefs in adolescence and early adulthood, which in turn would predict favorable self-care and dental attendance behaviors; those would lead to lower dental caries experience and better self-reported oral health by age 38 years.”

The investigators used statistical modeling to investigate the relationship between oral health-related beliefs and behaviors in childhood and early adulthood and dental health outcomes including quality of life.

This study followed the health (including oral health), the development and behavior of 1,037 people since birth for more than 40 years.

At the conclusion of the study, the authors concluded, the oral health of people near the age of 40 is associated with people’s beliefs, socio-economic status, dental attendance and self-care since the childhood years.

Key findings from the study are at:

More information about children’s oral health can be found at

© 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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Top Tips for Good Oral Care During Childhood

  • Brushing and flossing
    Begin using toothpaste to brush your child's teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.

  • Dental visit
    New parents often ask, "When should my child first see a dentist?” Your child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.

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