objectives: identify the association between family dysfunction related to the presence of alcoholism in the family and/or maternal depression symptoms and dental cavities/caries in children from two to three years old. methods: population comprised of 74 families in salvador, bahia. data collection consisted of the cli-nical examination of the children and interviews of their mothers at home. criteria of the world health organization were used to diagnose dental cavities/caries followed by disease prevalence classification. to identify symptoms of maternal depression and/or alcoholism in the family the self-report questionnaire (srq-20) was used as well as the adapted cage scale, respectively. descriptive analysis and adjusted prevalence ratio for confusion variables were estimated through non-conditional logistic regression. results: population's social and economic profile was homogenous. caries/cavities in children prevalence was of 20.2%. a positive association between family dysfunction and caries was determined (pagross= 3.06; 95%ci: 1.07-8.75). when this model was adjusted through confusion co-variables, family leadership and maternal job situation in the last two years, an increment of the association was noted (paadjusted= 7.35; 95%ci: 1.50-36.07). concluions: an association between family dysfunction and dental caries in small children is suggested.