Family history can impact the way you look and how you act, tethered tissues in your mouth, and the health conditions you may suffer.

It is probably not a surprise to learn that family history can also impact oral health. The ways that your family history impacts your oral health can vary and are dependent upon a number of factors. Family history can impact the structure of your teeth, how susceptible you are to certain issues and shape the habits that you developed in relation to oral care. We seem to put a lot of stock in the genes we inherit from our family. New research shows it is not necessarily the genes we inherit, it is the learned habits we should be more concerned with. We can change our health and our future with better habits. 

A study conducted in 2011 by the New York University College of Dentistry 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 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 at 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 greater 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!

Genetics play a big role in the way that family history impacts oral health. But the environment that you grew up in is part of your family history as well. You may have learned oral care habits from your family that are still impacting your oral health as an adult. 

For example, if your entire family used mouthwash in your home growing up you may still incorporate it into your current oral care routine. Poor oral care habits can also be passed down from your family to you. If you never witnessed your parents flossing their teeth, then you may regard it as a habit that is optional or unnecessary. It can be difficult to determine if your oral health is being impacted the most by your genetics or your learned behaviors. 

Ultimately, it does not matter that much because you need to be consistent with your oral care routine no matter what cards you were dealt by genetics. 

Family history has an impact on your general oral health and the way that you care for it. Poor genetics or bad role models are not good reasons to give up on developing optimal oral health. The reality is that many people have factors that are working against them when it comes to taking care of their oral health. Behaviors you might not even be aware of. Behavior that once you are aware you can change.

Health behaviors play a major role in the prevention of the most common oral diseases. One of these behaviors is related to the potential transmission of oral bacteria from mother to child. 

The study showed mothers with children under three years attending two municipal child health clinics in Finland completed a self-administered questionnaire on health knowledge and behaviors such as sharing a spoon with their child, kissing on the lips, and the mothers’ tooth brushing, smoking, age, and level of education. To reveal the relationships between the mothers’ behaviors and background factors.


Of the mothers, 38 % kissed their child on the lips and 14 % shared a spoon with their child; 11 % believed that oral bacteria cannot be transmitted from mother to child. Two-thirds (68 %) of them reported tooth brushing twice daily, and 80 % were non-smokers. 

The mothers’ behaviors: showed clear evidence of relationships between tooth brushing, smoking, age and education.  The mothers’ habits of kissing the child on the lips and sharing a spoon  related to each other and the level of education.. 


The study revealed two diverging dimensions of the mothers’ health behaviors. More emphasis in health education should  be put on how to avoid bacterial transmission from caregiver to child during feeding.

Behaviors play a major role in the prevention of the most common oral diseases despite their infectious character. Behaviors related to the transmission of oral bacteria, together with diet and oral hygiene, are important in the beliefs of dental caries in toddlers. Consequently, protecting babies and toddlers from the maternal transmission of oral bacteria is considered vital to their oral health.

The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, has published various guidelines and recommendations on health practices for mothers and caregivers. In addition, reducing the mother’s own oral bacteria is believed to minimize its transmission to the child and thus to decrease the risk for caries.

We must first be aware of what good habits are before we can change them. This is why I am on a continuing learning journey so I can share what I have learned to change our oral care habits and change our kids’ lives.  Mouth health is about more than just brushing and flossing. It is about breathing, feeding habits, mouth pH and knowing what the warning signs are early so we can prevent disease from happening. 

This is easier said than done. Dental disease is silent and we as a society wait until we are in pain to do something about the symptoms we are experiencing. Those symptoms are then treated but we still have not addressed the actual cause more times than not. Our healthcare system treats symptoms then we go back to the same routine and habits we have always had.  With my Cancer they cut it out and I went on with my life no mention of the habits I had that may have contributed to the cancer. I researched on my own and changed the products I use and the food I eat to prevent this from happening again. .  

Do the same thing you have always done, get the same thing you have always got!

We need to be our own advocates not only for ourselves but also our children! After all they acquire their habits and believe from us that they will then pass down to their children, our grandchildren. 

We need to know better to do better. It will take three generations to undo the unhealthy habits we have that are changing the growth and development of our kids. Pottegers theory of epigenetics in cats is what is happening to us humans as well. 

What is epigenetics?

The implications of his observations are vast. The experiment showed that distinct changes occur when food is cooked that affect its nutritional quality for the cast. It proved that the physical degeneration associated with a mother’s poor (cooked) diet could be inherited by offspring and was, in a way, remembered by the genes through multiple generations. The opposite was also found to be true in that the influence of a nutritious (raw) diet is passed on through generations.

We have the ability to stop the health implications for future generations if we are cognizant of our choices, actions and behaviors today.

A healthy mouth is a healthy body and a happy healthy life!

Keywords: Child, Health behavior, Mother, Oral health, Transmission

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