Poor Oral Health In Children: Myths vs. Reality
Your child has a cavity in a baby tooth, so what? The baby tooth will fall out soon anyway, right? While this may be true depending on your child’s age, decay can cause more problems than you may realize. The mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body and if you’re not careful, you may let something in that you don’t want.
Most people know that if you or your child has a toothache, you should see a dentist but most people forget is that a dentist is your doctor, too.
As a doctor, your dentist is concerned with your overall health and wellbeing. If you aren’t feeling well, the health and hygiene of your mouth can be related to a series of larger health concerns such as:
• Heart Disease – bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to the heart
• Pneumonia and Respiratory Infections – bacteria can be pulled into the lungs
• Diabetes – gum disease increases difficulty to control blood sugar levels
• Obesity – periodontal disease or tooth loss has been linked with obesity
• Osteoporosis – bone loss and tooth loss can be signs of osteoporosis and some medications for osteoporosis also have a small risk of causing jawbone damage
• High Blood Pressure – gum infection and inflammation worsen blood pressure and can interfere with hypertension treatment
• Pregnancy and Birth Complications – periodontitis has been linked to premature births and low birth weights
• HIV/AIDs – mucosal lesions are commons signs of HIV/AIDS
Protecting your child’s baby teeth and instilling good oral hygiene habits early will lay the groundwork for healthy adult teeth and strong hygiene habits into adulthood. Teach your children the importance of oral/dental care, because before too long, they will grow into young adults who will be responsible for their own health and wellbeing.
How can I practice good oral health with my kids?
• General health
• Brush twice a day
• Floss daily
• Use a mouth rinse
• Eat a healthy diet and limit sugar intake
• Replace toothbrushes every three months or sooner if the bristles are frayed or you’ve been sick
• See a dentist regularly every six months or as directed based on your specific case
• Drink water with fluoride to strengthen baby teeth
• Help kiddos brush until they are about nine years old
• Seal groovy teeth to prevent food from sitting in them
Pregnant and nursing women with babies also have special oral health concerns, and specific recommendations for maintaining good oral hygiene.
Pregnant and nursing women
• See your dentist in your second trimester before it becomes too uncomfortable to sit in the dental chair and get all preventive care completed.
• Pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones can impact gum health, be sure to brush and floss regularly
• Wipe gums twice a day with a clean cloth
• Avoid giving baby a bottle with milk or juice at night
• When teeth start coming in, start brushing
• First dental visit by first birthday