The dental health of your children is vital to their overall well-being. In the midst of a busy, full schedule, unless your child has tooth pain or other dental issues, it may seem like dental appointments and routines should fall to the bottom of the priority list. Nothing could be further from the truth. What if you discovered that the overall health of your child starts with their teeth? The truth is teeth are at the root of many childhood illnesses. Oral health can have a direct impact on your child’s overall health.
It’s important that you find a pediatric dentist who cares about your child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. An expert children’s dentist will help your child to implement good hygiene habits at home, and will want to see your child thrive in every setting. The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPA) both recommend that you schedule your child’s first dental appointment within six months of their first tooth. Choosing healthy staples for your child’s diet and setting a regularly scheduled dental routine may make a positive difference in their success socially, academically, and in fitness activities.
Healthy teeth and preventive dental care can help a child to live a better life.
Let’s take a look at some of the childhood illnesses caused by bad teeth, the causes of poor dental health, and the impact of dental health on a child’s academics, activities, and social life.
Childhood illnesses caused by bad teeth
Did you know that scientists have found a direct correlation between dental health and childhood diseases and conditions? Untreated tooth issues and poor dental hygiene can lead to a long list of issues. Some of the childhood conditions that stem from cavities (tooth decay) and other symptoms of poor dental health can include:
- Constant infections that could lead to issues in speech, play, and learning development
- Breathing issues due to an inability to properly close the mouth
- Strep throat due to unhealthy mouth bacteria
- Digestion issues leading to weight loss and stomach problems
- Constant headaches
- Inability for permanent teeth to grow
- Facial abnormalities and stunted growth
- Anxiety and self-esteem issues due to bad teeth appearance
- Severe heart issues as plaque buildup enters the bloodstream
- Untreated gum disease can lead to destroyed brain cells and memory loss
These are just some of the conditions caused by untreated teeth issues and poor dental health. In addition, your child’s social, academic, and fitness levels may be impacted by their teeth.
Impact of teeth on social, academic, and fitness success
Along with causing illness, poor dental health in children can also adversely impact other facets of their lives. A child with bad teeth may feel anxiety and stay away from their peers as they don’t want to be the target of bullying. They may also feel self-conscious about their appearance and develop social awkwardness. Due to pain and illness related to dental health, a child may accrue school absences, thereby keeping them away from their peers.
Studies by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) have shown that kids with learning disabilities are more apt to suffer from poor dental health. The studies also state that those with learning disabilities often suffer from:
- Significant levels of plaque
- Greater gum disease and inflammation
- An increased rate of missing permanent teeth
Learning disabilities can cause a child to fall behind in their classwork, and a CDC study shows that kids with cavities prove more likely to receive poor grades and miss more school days than children with good dental health. A child who feels self-conscious, doesn’t fit in with their peers, misses school, and receives poor grades is also less likely to take part in extracurricular activities (including sports) than their peers with healthy teeth. It’s hard enough to be a kid without the added pressure of dental anxiety.
Preventive measures to protect your child’s overall health
The good news is, there are myriad preventative measures that you can instill in your child’s daily routine to help stave off severe health issues down the road. By integrating easy steps into your child’s hygienic habits, they may enjoy better health and overall success. Here are a few ways to improve your child’s dental health:
- One of the easiest ways to prevent cavities and tooth decay in children is through the use of fluoride. Fluoride prevents 33% of cavities in baby teeth. Make sure you purchase fluoride toothpastes. Many cities in the U.S. infuse fluoride into their water supply. You can find out if your area utilizes this practice on the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride website.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment within six months of their first tooth
- Begin cleaning your infant’s teeth as soon as they appear
- Ensure your child is brushing their teeth two times per day, and supervise the process to make sure they’re brushing properly
- Steer your child away from foods and beverages with high-sugar content
- Ask your trusted dentist about dental sealants for your child
- Schedule regular dental checkups every six months
The right dentist can help you set your child on the path to overall health.
At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry, we have been growing healthy faces for over 16 years. We believe that teeth health can have a huge impact on children’s overall well being — physically, socially, and academically. We aim to diagnose and resolve the root of any dental issue, rather than treat the symptoms alone. Contact us for a virtual consultation today.