Researchers from Japan have shown that postpartum depression can inhibit a mother’s ability to instill healthy tooth brushing habits in children.
In Japan, there is a worryingly high prevalence of childhood dental caries (ECC) among children aged three years old.
In research published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, a team from Tohoku University Hospital examined how much this was due to postpartum depression and/or lack of affection causing bonding disorders in the mother.
The team analysed approximately 80,000 mother-infant pairs from the Ministry of Environment’s Japan Environment and Children’s Study.
They found children with mothers suffering from postpartum depression or bonding disorders brushed their teeth less often. Likewise, the frequency with which children brushed their teeth increased when mothers showed strong affection towards them.
The researchers hope their research will foster greater mental support and management for mothers and that doctors will incorporate these factors when assessing children’s oral health.
“A mother’s psychological wellbeing provides valuable screening information for identifying children at a high risk of ECC,” Dr Shinobu Tsuchiya said.
The study demonstrates the need to foster greater mental support and management for mothers and incorporate these factors when assessing children’s oral health.