Studies have long linked low-income communities with poor oral health. However, researchers at the University of Washington and Case Western Reserve University suspected that other factors related to income could also have an impact on oral health, especially education level.

To determine the extend of this effect, researchers conducted a study on how a parent or other caregiver’s education level and oral hygiene habits affected their children’s oral health.

Collecting data from 423 low-income kindergartners and their primary caregivers, researchers tested their hypothesis that a parent or guardian’s education level influenced how often they and their kids brushed their teeth and visited the dentist for routine oral care, such a checkups and cleanings, and how those habits resulted in filled or decayed teeth.

After examining the data, researchers discovered:

  • Parents and guardians who completed high school were 1.76 times more likely to schedule dental exams when compared to those who did not graduate.
  • The children of those with high school diplomas were nearly six times more likely to regularly visit the dentist.
  • Children who received regular dental care had roughly one-forth fewer untreated cavities when compared to kids who did not receive regular care.
  • The education level of caregivers was directly associated with about one-third fewer teeth suffering from untreated decay, and 28 percent fewer decayed or filled teeth among their children.

The findings of this study, reported in the journal Caries Research, confirms the role of a parent’s or guardian’s education level in the prevalence of oral decay among children and serves as an indication that a parent or guardian’s behavior influences a child’s oral health habits.

Better Role Models

As a result of these findings, researchers hope to encourage parents to become better role models to their kids when it comes to setting a good example about their oral health. Previous efforts to lower dental decay in kids have focused on children’s education regarding the dangers of tooth decay and gum disease. However, researchers now believe that by educating and changing parent and guardian behavior oral health advocates will have a better chance of changing children’s behavior.

At Must Love Kids, we work hard to to be the best dentistry for children Vancouver WA has to offer. If you have questions about your kids oral health, please contact us today.