Are Parents to Blame for Childhood Dental Issues?

Dental treatmentA Nov. 20 report from DentistryIQ has found disturbing trends in the oral health of young people.

The study, which examined severe dental caries in youth, was completed by dental students Ghazaleh Vargha and Aisha Saradi and researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry.

In the last two decades, progress has been consistent and considerable in attempting to understand how dental caries happen and how they may be treated.

In young children, dental caries are one of the most commonly occurring diseases, and the consequences of this range in social, medical, and economic arenas. About 99.7% of adults responding to a survey from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reported believing that a great smile is socially important, which makes poor oral health in children an issue with life-long effects.

While previous studies have shown that dental caries come from genetics, dietary habits, and environmental and behavioral risks, this study went one step further. Severe caries in children are also determined in part by sociodemographics and are more prevalent in those with lower educations, worse dietary habits, differences in gender, and poor oral health.

Now, many are turning the blame toward parents for some of the risk factors involved.

One of the biggest issues that dentists point out is a lack of care for primary teeth, otherwise known as baby teeth. Many parents believe that, since these teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by adult teeth anyway, oral hygiene is not as important.

For parents who work irregular hours or are self-employed, a lack of a dental plan can also have devastating consequences on children’s dental hygiene. Oftentimes, freelancers and part-time or contract workers have to purchase their own health plans in order to help their children get the care they need, even at an early age.

To help parents understand how vital oral care is for young children, an additional study will aim to disprove the myths surrounding these teeth and will be funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Researchers will not only disprove popular dental hygiene myths, but they will also find ways to educate parents on their roles in their children’s oral health.

A survey called “The Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire” (PSDQ) was also done in an effort to prove that parents are partially responsible. The PSDQ looked at how different parenting styles affected a child’s behavior at the dentist office.

The study following this survey looked at how that style linked to caries and sociodemographics.

The parenting types included authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive, based on leading research by Diana Blumberg Baumrind.

The behaviors of the children was ranked based on the Frankl scale: definitely negative, negative, positive, or definitely positive. This study found that better behavior in children was found in those attending daycare and those with authoritative parents.

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