Objective: To investigate the impact of the family’s socioeconomic trajectory on the oral health status of young people in the city of Sobral, Ceará, Brazil, and test the hypotheses of the life course theory. Methods: This is a cohort study conducted in 2000, 2006, and 2012. In the third wave, 482 individuals between 17 and 21 years of age were examined and interviewed. The outcomes analyzed were the trajectory of tooth decay (decayed teeth in 2012 and cavity reoccurrence) and the trajectory of dental assistance (immediate dental assistance and untreated caries). The socioeconomic trajectory was measured by the mobility of the family’s income between childhood and youth and the number of episodes of poverty throughout life. Results: The risk of developing decayed teeth in 2012 was greater for those who had always remained poor. Young people who were never poor had fewer decayed teeth in 2012, but more cavity reoccurrence. Downward mobility resulted in less access to immediate dental assistance. More experience of poverty throughout life implied more decayed teeth in 2012 and less immediate dental assistance. Conclusion: The life course hypotheses regarding an influence of socioeconomic mobility and cumulative risk on oral health outcomes in youth were confirmed.

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