Bullying may affect dental health, research finds

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bullying affects dental health
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Young people who have adverse childhood experiences are at greater risk of poor dental health, according to research in Norway. 

A team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology is researching the ways in which adverse childhood and adolescent experiences affect dental health. The study is published in BMC Oral Health.

Young people who participated in the Young-HUNT Survey were asked if they had experienced anything bad in their childhood such as bullying, abuse, violence or parents with serious alcohol problems. They were also asked about their teeth cleaning habits. The answers have been collated with data from the public dental health service.

“We have conducted a study in which we combine self-reported answers with clinical dental health data. This makes the study unique, and we were a little surprised at what we found,” PhD candidate and psychology specialist Lena Myran said.

A total of 6351 young people participated in the survey. The results indicated that young individuals with a background of adverse childhood experiences were more likely to report not brushing their teeth daily. Among other things, young people aged 16 to 17 who experience bullying were more likely to report bad teeth cleaning habits.

“The correlations we find provide us with important knowledge about young people. Experiences of violence, abuse and bullying are harmful in many areas of life, and we now see that this is also the case when it comes to dental health,” Myran said.

“The more different types of bad experiences you have from your childhood, the stronger the effect on your tooth brushing habits and caries.”

The researchers found that most of the survey participants who had had caries were among the oldest young people, aged 16 to 17 years old.

The researchers also found a correlation between dose and response.

“The more different types of bad experiences you have from your childhood, the stronger the effect on your tooth brushing habits and caries. For example, many people have experienced both abuse and parents with alcohol-related problems. These young people are more likely to have poor dental health than those who have experienced only one of the two,” Myran said.

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