The aim of this study was to assess the association between externalizing behaviour problems and dental caries in children. A further objective was to explore direct and indirect pathways between sociodemographic factors, family functioning and parenting factors, oral health behaviours, externalizing behaviour problems, and dental caries using structural equation modelling. Cross-sectional data were collected on 251, 5- to 8-yr-old children from a paediatric dental practice in the Netherlands. Children's decayed, missing, and filled primary teeth (dmft) scores were obtained from their dental records. Validated self-report questionnaires were used to collect sociodemographic, behavioural, and family-related data. Externalizing problem behaviour was significantly associated with a higher dmft score [incidence risk ratio (IRR) = 1.19; 95% CI: 1.06-1.34], but this association did not remain significant after adjustment for sociodemographic factors (IRR = 1.11; 95% CI: 0.99-1.26). A valid path model was presented after applying some modifications. Findings from the model suggest that it is plausible that child behaviour problems are directly associated with dental caries via toothbrushing behaviour. The model also provided support that maternal education level, the restrictiveness and warmth of parenting, and the communication of the family, play an indirect role in the association between children's externalizing behavioural problems and dental caries experience.