Research has garnered support for a systemic view of factors affecting child dental caries that accounts for the influence of social factors such as the family environment. Our previous work has demonstrated the association between mother-to-father emotional aggression and child caries. The present study builds on these results by evaluating pathways that might explain this relation. Families (n = 135) completed a multimethod assessment of mother-to-father emotional aggression, child caries, and several hypothesized mediators (i.e., child cariogenic snack and drink intake, child internalizing behaviors, child salivary cortisol and α-amylase reactivity, parental laxness, child oral hygiene maintenance, and parental socialization of child oral hygiene maintenance). Mediation analyses partially supported the role of the child's diet as a mechanism linking mother-to-father emotional aggression and child caries. However, children's neglect of oral hygiene, parental laxness, and child emotional and biological disturbances failed to stand as conduits for this association. Future investigations should expand upon these results to better establish the causal links that could only be suggested by the present cross-sectional findings.
- Childhood caries
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