Recent research has looked at a potential connection between adverse experiences in childhood and poor oral health. While the link between adverse experiences and a negative impact on physical and mental health is known, there is limited research on how it can impact oral health. Now, a team of researchers has looked to see if an association exists.

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Adverse experiences in childhood can have a range of negative effects. Poor self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and poor grades are all common consequences.

However, one connection that hasn’t been studied before is the impact of adverse childhood experiences on oral health.

Now, a research team has sought to find out if there is an association [1]. Their findings are important for parents and oral health professionals alike.


Adverse childhood experiences can refer to a range of things. Essentially, they involve a child having a negative experience, which can impact their health in numerous ways.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest adverse childhood experiences include experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, witnessing violence, or having a family member attempt or die by suicide [2].

Unfortunately, these adverse experiences are very common. In fact, the CDC found that about 64% of U.S. adults reported experiencing at least one type of adverse experience in their childhood [1].

Moreover, 17,3% of adults reported experiencing multiple types of adverse experiences in their childhood [2]. These are very sad statistics, and underline the sheer number of children experiencing such events.

As discussed earlier, adverse experiences in childhood can result in a range of problems, including both physical and mental. But what about oral health? A research team looked into this topic.

The Research

The research was undertaken by a team of Norwegian researchers. Subsequently, their findings have been published in the BMC Oral Health journal [1].

To find out about the adverse experiences and their impact, the team used answers from children that participated in the Young-HUNT Survey. In total, there were 6,351 people that participated [1].

Those in this survey were asked if they had experienced any adverse experience in their childhood, as outlined earlier. Moreover, they were also asked about their teeth cleaning habits [1].

This allowed the researchers to combine the answers and see if there was a connection between those with more adverse experiences in childhood and their toothbrushing habits [1]. For additional analysis, the team collated the answers with data from the public dental health service [1].

Interestingly, the results showed that those with a background of adverse childhood experiences were likelier to report not brushing their teeth on a daily basis [1]. Therefore, this would negatively impact their oral health.

Furthermore, the more adverse experiences that a person had experienced, the less toothbrushing took place [1]. Consequently, less brushing worsens oral health. This finding is of particular concern, as it shows many people are at high risk of having poor oral health.

The survey showed that children with fewer or no adverse childhood experiences had stronger oral health – underlining the association between these two areas.

As expected, the group with more adverse childhood experiences also had more cavities compared to those without the experiences [1].

These findings confirmed that there is a connection between adverse childhood experiences and poor oral health.

What this means

The findings of this research are rather concerning. There are clearly huge numbers of people that need additional help with their oral health.

Lena Myran was one of the authors of the research. She said that while “we cannot say for sure whether one leads to the other”, the team “do know that there is an association” between poor oral health and adverse experiences in childhood [3].

Myran has emphasized that a large proportion of those that have experienced adverse childhood experiences do have good oral health [3]. However, there are some people at significant risk, with Myran saying that “there is a group that is a little more vulnerable that we need to be aware of” [3].

Looking at things from a wider perspective, Myran says that the correlation between poor experiences and poor dental health “provides us with important knowledge about young people” [3].

Myran has suggested that a holistic approach could be most effective. For example, she has said that dental professionals should consider asking patients about any adverse experiences they have undergone, in cases where high levels of tooth decay are discovered [3].

Furthermore, Myran believes that such an approach can result in earlier detection of problems and more targeted preventive measures being implemented [3].

Any improvement in oral health is welcomed. Improving the relationship between a dentist and their patient is important, and could help a child to confide in a dentist. In return, they could receive more targeted care.

It is very important for anyone with poor oral health to seek treatment. Dentists will always help where possible. Improving oral health can help to improve the overall quality of life – making this a very important topic.

Thinking points…

[1] This study shows the importance of brushing our teeth. However, regardless of how much you brush, you still need to ensure that you attend a dental clinic on a regular basis for a check-up! These check-ups will ensure that your teeth and gums are strong and that no issues are present. We recommend booking an appointment now!

[2] One of the key causes of poorer oral health in this study was a lack of toothbrushing. Therefore, if you have children, take this article as a reminder of the importance of your children brushing their teeth regularly. Remember to supervise them while brushing and assisting when necessary. This can help them get into good habits and have a positive impact on their long-term oral health.

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a dental clinic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At our Calgary dental clinic, we provide a range of services for our patients.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To strengthen your oral health, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Our patients find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

Moreover, the fees of our treatments at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing, with no hidden costs.

We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website!


[1] Myran, L., Sen, A., Willumsen, T., Havnen, A., Kvist, T., Ronneberg, A., Dahllof, G., & Hovik, H. (2023). Associations of adverse childhood experiences with caries and toothbrushing in adolescents. The Young-HUNT4 Survey. BMC Oral Health. 23 (760). DOI:

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). What are adverse childhood experiences?. Available: Last accessed: 11th May 2024.

[3] Hestvik, I. (2024). Bullying may affect dental health, say researchers. Available: Last accessed: 11th May 2024.