Research News

Tooth brushing isn't enough to prevent dental decay in young children

23. 1. 2018 | A new study led by AcademiaNet member Valeria Skafida highlights that factors such as snacking habits and socioeconomical circumstances may strongly affect the oral health of children below five.
Show Your Teeth
Bild vergrößern
(© Theete via wikimedia commons (link to original image:, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (

Show Your Teeth

Regular tooth brushing is vital for the health of childrens' and adults' teeth. But there are other factors that can have a big impact on dental decay, a new study shows. Scientists led by Dr Valeria Skafida from the University of Edinburgh have found that kids who snacked all day had twice the risk to suffer from caries than those who only snacked occasionally. Children that ate sweets at least once a day also were found to have more dental decay at the age of five. Regular tooth brushing could not completely erase the negative effect of sugary snacks on the teeth: Childen that ate sweets and brushed their teeth at least twice a day still had a higher rates of dental problems than the ones without a sweet tooth.

Additional significant risk factors for caries ware the education and occupation of the mother: Kids of mothers with no formal education were reported to have tooth decay more than twice as often as those from mothers with degrees, and children whose mothers had never worked were three and a half times more likely to suffer from poor dental health than those with moms in managerial and professional jobs.

For the study, the scientists had collected data from 3770 children in Scotland over the course of several years. They asked parents about the eating habits, tooth brushing routines and upbringing of their children. Then, they compared how those factors had affected the dental health of the young ones at the age of 5. Even though their baby teeth will eventually make way for adult teeth, a person's oral hygiene practices are firmly established in the first years of life, and bad habits may be carried over well into adulthood. The research suggests that snacking habits could be a good additional target for interventions that aim to improve the dental health of the population.

  (© AcademiaNet)

More information


  1. Read what our members say about AcademiaNet.

No more excuses!

  1. Please download the brochure "No more excuses" and read more about female experts in Europe, and about AcademiaNet.


  1. SNSF will run AcademiaNet

    More women in scientific leadership positions - this is the goal of AcademiaNet, the European database listing outstanding women researchers. As of January 2020, it will be run by the SNSF.

  2. AcademiaNet at a crossroads – a look back and future perspectives

    The Robert Bosch Foundation (RBS) has founded AcademiaNet and funded the platform from the beginning. They now have to end the funding at a time when AcademiaNet starts to gain momentum. We spoke with Dr Katrin Rehak-Nitsche, Senior Vice President for Science and Research at the RBS, about the situation.

  3. "We are missing out on a lot of potential…”

    Interview with AcademiaNet member Eva-Maria Feichtner

  4. Narcissism: not only an individual failing

    Interview with AcademiaNet member Agnieszka Golec de Zavala

  5. Film and television tell children who can be scientists

    Roles on the screen largely reinforce the message that scientists are white men.