Tooth Decay because of Grandma and Grandpa?
Grandparents are important in the nutrition and dental hygiene of young children. This brings with it a high degree of responsibility.
For a long time, biologists could not explain the existence of grandmothers: older women can no longer have children after menopause, they are theoretically of little importance for the maintenance of the species – and perhaps a burden on the family. In recent years, this puzzle has been partially solved. A look at the animal world helped: With orcas and elephants, i.e. species of animals that live in multigenerational families and where females are in charge, grandmothers are very important for groups.
The orca grandmothers care for the young animals and promote their survival by sharing their prey and teaching them hunting strategies. The offspring of elephants with grandparents also have a better chance of survival. The old females also help the herd by relieving the calves so often that they manage to breed early: they generally have more calves than elephant cows without grandmothers in the herd. Older elephants also transmit their vast experience, knowing, for example, where to find water holes even in times of drought or in areas where it is very dangerous because poachers are around.
Grandmothers – and increasingly grandfathers – take the pressure off the nuclear family, especially when both parents work. There aren’t many studies on whether it also improves family health. These are often small and of greater narrative value. However, it is clear that grandparents who help care for children have a certain responsibility.
A cross-sectional study carried out two years ago by health researchers at the Massachusetts College of Health Sciences in Boston, for example, showed that grandparents’ knowledge affects the oral health of their grandchildren: the less educated the grandparents and grandparents, the more teeth they have. Decadence were the descendants. In the study, many of the grandparents did not know, for example, that fruit juice in a bottle caused cavities and that gum bacteria could be transmitted through shared toothbrushes and cups.
A small study by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm showed that children who are cared for by grandparents are less likely to be overweight than those whose grandparents do not influence their children’s nutrition. Here too, the education of grandparents is crucial. That’s why they need to be up to date on the state of nutritional research—and also know what dietary trends are currently prevalent among grandchildren, whether sugary teas or smoothies are popular, or what plant-based nutrition means. A Scottish study showed that some grandparents tend to serve traditional dishes high in fat and carbohydrates. Therefore, researchers urge grandparents to always be aware of their impact on their grandchildren’s health and not to underestimate it.