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When mothers are afraid, the children's risk of tooth decay increases

A vicious circle: Many people with dental phobia are negligent with regular dentist visits, which in turn can lead to deterioration of their dental health and thus even more fear. But not only that - the next generation is also at risk.

In the first few years of a child's life, it is most influenced by the mother. As a recent Indian study has now found, this also affects maternal fear of dentists. Researchers from the Department of Public Health Dentistry, I.T.S Dental College, Muradnagar, have shown that this correlates with the children's dental health.

The scientists examined 200 mother-child pairs in a cross-sectional study. They used the DMF-T index and a gingivitis index to determine the dental health of children between the ages of two and five. The mothers were rated for their fear of dentists using a five-point Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS).

The results of the im Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care published study showed a clear link between mother's fear of dentistry and her children's oral health. This applies to both the gingivitis and the DMF-T index. The higher the fear of the mothers, the higher the children's scores. Children of phobic mothers had the highest number of carious, missing and filled teeth.

The researchers assume that the avoidance strategies of anxious mothers ensure that they too rarely go to dental check-ups with their children.

Photo: Matthias Stolt -