When we think about what impacts our teeth the most, we often picture the conscious decisions we make, like how often we brush our teeth, how often we go to the dentist and if we choose to use tobacco products. However, these lifestyle decisions aren’t the only factors at play when it comes to tooth health. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, childhood trauma can also be a predictor for how healthy your teeth may be down the road.
For their study, researchers wanted to take a different look at some of the factors that can influence our tooth health. There are a number of previous studies that look at the effects of health conditions like diabetes or lung disease and how they may impact our teeth, but researchers wanted to look beyond medical conditions. They wanted to look at some family history elements, including traumatic childhood events, to see if they could help predict future tooth health.
Researchers collected data through a survey and looked at developed three different models:
- A sensitive model, that examined traumatic events during a crucial stage in development.
- An accumulation model, which examined the effect of an accumulation of events over the course of a person’s life.
- A social mobility model, that examined the person’s socioeconomic status throughout life.
Childhood Trauma and Tooth Health
After looking at the data and comparing the models, researchers came to some interesting conclusions. For starters, they concluded that there was a significant link between childhood trauma and abuse and eventual total tooth loss (No longer having any natural teeth in their mouth). They also stated that older adults who experienced adverse events throughout their life were more likely to have total tooth loss than individuals without such events in their past.
Although they did not dive into why the link exists, researchers believe that children who experience trauma or abuse may be more likely to turn to risky health behaviors, like tobacco use or binge drinking, which can contribute to tooth loss. They also believe there may be a link between childhood trauma and learning and achievement, which can inhibit these kids from getting a job in the future that provides dental insurance.
“It’s really sad to see that adversity breeds adversity, but it really seems that dental health is rooted in adverse experiences you encounter over the life course, particularly in childhood,” said study author Haena Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “Future policy may benefit from considering the role of childhood adversity and beyond to reduce further oral health disparity.”
No matter your background, we want to help ensure you have a happy and healthy smile for years to come, so don’t be afraid to reach out to Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist. We accept a wide variety of insurance plans and can work out a payment schedule with you if desired. We just want to help ensure your smile is the healthiest it can be. Reach out to our clinic today for more information.