A new study conducted at the University of Michigan suggests childhood trauma might be linked to a higher risk of tooth loss later in life. The research looked at the impact of negative childhood events on oral health and found that childhood abuse leads to tooth loss.
Oral health problems are linked to other health problems
Former studies conducted on oral health found that diabetes and lung disease are risk factors for a number of oral health conditions. Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry specialists often meet patients who suffer from diabetes and struggle with tooth loss at the same time. This happens because the medical treatment for diabetes leads to dry mouth. This leads to a number of oral health problems which eventually lead to tooth loss. Smoking and lung disease also have the same negative impact on your oral health.
The link between your lifestyle and tooth loss
Because 20% of all Americans over the age of 50 suffer from tooth loss, researchers wanted to find if there are any life events which can lead to tooth loss. Researchers conducted a representative longitudinal study on mature adults, analyzing their oral health, social status and childhood experiences, as well as family history. The study revealed that more than 13% of the adults in their 50s had lost their teeth. 30% of them had financial problems, had lost their parents or went through their parent’s divorce by the age of 16. 10% of the respondents had suffered physical abuse during childhood and 18% smoked during childhood. Half of the respondents had a high school diploma and had experienced poverty at least once. Researchers found that older adults are at higher risk of total tooth loss if they had struggled with multiple negative experiences during their lifetime.
Childhood trauma linked to destructive habits
The research showed that traumatic events in childhood can lead to a destructive behavior. People who experience abuse in their childhood years are more prone to engage in smoking, binge drinking or become addicted to sugar or nicotine. This pattern of destructive behavior can lead to total tooth loss.
Another problem discovered during the study is that childhood trauma can also be linked to low education, as people are prone to leave school earlier, due to the negative impact of trauma on learning and achievement. Lack of higher education translates into lack of dental insurance, which also contributes to a poor oral health.
Overall, the study revealed that childhood abuse can impact oral health later in life, by opening a vicious cycle. Traumatic events decrease one’s self-confidence and make them prone to engaging in destructive behaviors, especially during their teenage years. Due to a lack of self-esteem, people are prone to leave school early, which leaves them with financial struggles, as well as the inability to secure a higher paid job. The lack of money and dental insurance, as well as smoking, drinking and other health problems lead to oral health problems which end with the loss of permanent teeth later in life.