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How Family Dynamics Effect Oral Health in Children

The connection between physical and mental health is one of the most confusing and difficult to research connections in medicine today. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that suggests poor mental health can lead to poor physical health, but little specific evidence. However, a 2011 study conducted by the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) seeks to back this connection with hard data. The study was designed to assess the link between dental health and family dynamics in children. They were testing to see if there was an actual physiological effect of poor parenting on oral health. In a study of roughly 150 families that included blood/saliva samples and questionnaires, researchers concluded that the more physical or verbal conflicts that occurred between the parents, the more oral health issues the child had.

The researchers behind the findings explain that this clear correlation has two parts: the actual negligence of the parents, and the effect stress has on a physiological level. Basically, the compounded effect of parents not teaching their children proper oral hygiene techniques, and the stress of family conflict generally lowering immunological response, leaves children of troubled homes at risk of oral disease. Researchers do point out that lax parenting habits are even more dangerous than the stress factor, and letting your kids eat unhealthy and sugary foods is the fastest track to the dentist. However at the same time, it shows how the mind and body are connected, and how you must take care of both to stay healthy!

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