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The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Oral Health

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neglected childMore than 130 married or cohabiting couples and their children of elementary school age were examined in the study "Noxious Family Environments in Relation to Adult and Childhood Caries," which was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. The researchers identified a higher number of caries in the partners and children of ?aggressive family members.?

?Women and men whose partners demonstrated overall hostile behavior toward them had higher levels of cavities compared with participants from innocuous family environments. The same was observed in children. According to the study, the extent of children's caries experience was positively associated with the level of their mothers' emotional aggression toward their partners.?

?The researchers concluded that noxious family environments may help explain the limitations of routine oral health preventive strategies. They recommended that health care professionals develop interprofessional strategies that also address the family environment.?

"Family oral health may suffer because noxious behaviors create an emotional environment that undermines organized routines such as regular tooth brushing, parents? socialization of children?s tooth brushing and healthy eating," the researchers wrote. "For example, after an intense conflict, a parent may be more preoccupied with his or own emotional state than with enforcing a child?s tooth brushing or preparing a healthy meal. The stress of family hostility also may promote ?stress eating,? which may include sugars and other cariogenic foods."

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