Abstract

The long-term effects of poor maternal oral health are unknown. We determined whether maternal oral health when children were young was a risk indicator for caries experience in adulthood, using oral examination and interview data from age-5 and age-32 assessments in the Dunedin Study, and maternal self-rated oral health data from the age-5 assessment. The main outcome measure was probands’ caries status at age 32. Analyses involved 835 individuals (82.3% of the surviving cohort) dentally examined at both ages, whose mothers were interviewed at the age-5 assessment. There was a consistent gradient in age-32 caries experience across the categories of maternal self-rated oral health status (from the age-5 assessment): it was greatest among the probands whose mothers rated their oral health as “poor” or who were edentulous, and lowest among those whose mothers rated their oral health as “excellent”. Unfavorable maternal self-rated oral health when children are young should be regarded as a risk indicator for poor oral health among offspring as they reach adulthood.