Grandparents Are Ruining Their Grandkids Teeth

Grandparents tend to spoil their grandkids with sugary treats, which is detrimental to their dental health, according to research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, and the University of Michigan.

What to Know

  • More than two thirds (72%) of surveyed mothers claim that grandparents spoil their young children by either feeding their kids “large amounts” of cavity-causing foods and beverages or failing to limit their grandchildren’s consumption of these treats.

  • Despite this, moms are reluctant to address the matter, and only slightly more than half (51%) have spoken with the grandparents about their habits; 73% say they are willing to speak with their own parents, but fewer than half (43%) say they would address their partner’s parents.

  • The moms’ willingness to police sweet intake depended on several factors, including how strong the relationship with the grandparents was, how often the grandparents saw the children, whether the mom depended on them for childcare, and the types of sugary foods and beverages being allowed/provided by grandparents.

  • The more a child eats sugary treats and drinks, the greater the risk of tooth decay. Cavities are the most common chronic childhood disease.

  • Cavities can cause a child undue pain, as well as problems with speaking, eating, playing, and learning, but the sugary diet also puts kids at higher risk of other health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity.

This is a summary of the article, “Factors Affecting Maternal Decision Making About Grandparents’ Cariogenic Dietary Choices for Children,” which was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association” in February 2023. The full article can be found on

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