An atmosphere of violence, anger, trouble, and other negative conditions is not only detrimental to the family’s emotional and mental health, but may also have a huge impact on a family’s oral health. This is according to the results of a study that was published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. It would appear that children and even the parents who are exposed to these situations tend to have more cavities and missing teeth.
Led by Dr. Michael Lorber, a team of researchers from New York University’s College of Dentistry carried out a study with the objective of determining the impact of a poor family environment on the family member’s health, particularly the oral health. A total of 135 cohabiting heterosexual couples along with their grade school-aged children were recruited for this research study. Participants were predominantly white and with an average yearly income of $100,000.
Actual oral examinations were conducted by qualified dental providers mainly by determining the number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth. The subjective oral health of the participants was measured through the use of questionnaires handed out to the parents and their children. Questionnaires were likewise given to parents in order to find the degree of physical and emotional aggression between spouses and between the parents and the children. Observation in laboratory interactions were also undertaken to validate the results derived from the questionnaires.
After analyzing the results of the study, researchers were able to report that women had 3.5 more dental cavities and men had 5.3 additional cavities for every increase in the negative behaviors exhibited by the spouses. For every above-average increase in the mother‘s emotional aggression, children also experienced an average of 1.9 additional dental cavities. Examples of negative behaviors common in this environment are physical aggression such as hitting and kicking, and verbal abuse, such as insults and threats.
It was also observed that an unhealthy family environment did not only disrupt healthy eating habits and good oral care but also affected the immune system, which may only lead to more tooth decay. It was suggested by the study author that constant fighting may lead to the neglect of the teeth and possibly eating more sugar and carbohydrates. These factors will certainly lead to more dental problems.
Significance of Study
The outcome of this study is very significant especially if we consider that aggression is common in at least 90 percent of families, based on a 2005 study. It is common knowledge that this unhealthy behavior may have implications on overall health. And now it has been shown that it can have a huge impact on oral health, an area which is vital in the maintenance of overall health.
It might be a good idea for families to consciously give attention to oral health even when exposed to a poor family environment. When you really consider it, proper oral care is not really difficult. It really helps finding time to visit the dentist on a regular basis.