The aim of this case-control study was to explore the relationship between parenting practices, parent-child interaction and childhood dental caries, using a sample of 5-8-year old children from the Netherlands. Cases were defined as children with four or more decayed, missing or filled teeth and controls were caries free. Cases (n=28) and controls (n=26) were recruited from a referral centre for paediatric dental care and a general dental practice, respectively. Parenting practices and parent-child interactions of the child's primary caregiver were observed using Structured Interaction Tasks and subsequently rated on seven dimensions: positive involvement, encouragement, problem-solving, discipline, monitoring, coercion and interpersonal atmosphere. All Structured Interaction Tasks were videotaped, and coded by trained and calibrated observers blind to the dental condition. Differences in parenting dimensions between cases and controls were analysed using multivariate analysis of variance, independent samples T-tests, χ2-tests and multiple logistic regression analyses. Controls had significantly higher scores on the dimensions positive involvement, encouragement, problem-solving and interpersonal atmosphere, compared to cases. Parents of controls were also less likely to show coercive behaviours. These associations remained statistically significant after adjustment for the mother's education level, tooth brushing frequency and the frequency of consuming sugary foods and drinks, except for coercion. There was no significant difference in discipline between cases and controls. In conclusion, this case-control study found a significant relationship between parenting practices, parent-child interaction quality and childhood dental caries. Our findings suggest that parenting practices may be an important factor to consider in caries preventive programs. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.