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Family Troubles Related To Poorer Dental Health: Study

Update Date: Sep 06, 2014 04:31 PM EDT

Parents and children in troubled families, where violence and verbal aggression is a daily affair, tend to have more cavities and missing teeth, according to a new study. 

The study found that parents with worse oral health often had partners who were more verbally or physically hostile to them. 

Children whose mothers were emotionally aggressive to their father also had more decayed, missing or filled tooth, the study found. 

"There's a pretty good history in the [medical] literature of lousy family environments being associated with bad health, so I guess our findings aren't surprising in that regard," said study author Michael Lorber, director of developmental research for the Family Translational Research Group at NYU's College of Dentistry, in the press release. 

"We had a really consistent set of findings that the more your partner is nasty to you, the more lesions are on your teeth," Lorber added.

The study authors underscored the fact that aggression is shockingly common in American families with 90 percent of families in a 2005 study reporting parent-to-child aggression, couple aggression or both.

"Maybe if you're fighting like cats and dogs, you're neglecting your teeth ... or eating more sugar and carbs," he said. "Certainly the immune system is also known not to function as well in hostile families. It's another way the family environment might impact oral health."

The study has been published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. 

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