On August 25, scientists from Ohio's Case Western Reserve University's School of Dental Medicine announced that current and expectant mothers should pay more attention to how their children learn dental care techniques.
A new study by the school, entitled "Early Maternal Psychosocial Factors are Predictors for Adolescent Caries," examined the oral health of teenagers and compared their prior dental history to their mothers, and found significant correlations that suggest links between toddler-age skill acquisition and maternal demonstration.
Respondents included 244 adolescents who were originally part of a study related to birth weight. Additionally, the mothers of the participants completed surveys about the frequency of both their children's and their own dental care.
The report concluded that children between the ages of 3 and 8 were the most susceptible to good or habit formations, which had long-term effects on how diligent they were about brushing and flossing. The researchers suggested that greater access to dental education at an early age is not enough, and that parental guidance is necessary to foster the right attitudes.
"It isn’t enough to tell children to brush and floss, they need more – and particularly from their caregivers," Suchitra Nelson, the lead author of the study, said in a press release from Case Western. “We cannot ignore these environmental influences and need interventions to help some moms get on track early in their children’s lives."
While nothing has been officially finalized, future studies may focus on the role of other family members and oral hygiene, perhaps with a specific longitudinal study devoted to the topic. However, it's important for parents to model correct dental care techniques in order to ensure a lifetime of stronger teeth and gums.