It is not uncommon for children to have bad oral health habits if good habits were not introduced earlier. Dental care can be presented before a baby develops teeth. The first way is by simply washing their mouth and gums with clean water during bath time and doing this get the child used to having something in their mouth that is not food. Leading by example is also a big part of this. Children will often emulate what you do, not necessarily what you say. 

A recent study from the University of Helsinki suggests that children who develop common oral problems, including gum diseases, prove to be prone to develop risk factors for heart disease later on in their life. As a part of this study, the participating children were checked for signs of oral infections and inflammation, including caries, fillings, and bleeding, among other common dental problems in young children. 

The research team had a followup study where the artery intima-media thickness was measured. The thickening of the carotid artery wall signifies the progression of atherosclerosis and a heightened risk for myocardial or cerebral infection. The results showed that only five per cent of the results of the examination were positive results, while 61% and 34% of the children had one to three signs and four signs of oral infections, respectively. Fifty-four per cent of the children presented with slight periodontal pocketing, and it was more frequent in boys than in girls. 

How does poor oral health increase health risks?

When the gums become inflamed due to the harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease, that same bacteria can travel into the bloodstream causing the arteries to build up plaque which disturbs healthy blood circulation. The damaging impact on the arteries and veins can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk for strokes. Not everyone with this poor oral health risk factor will go on to have a heart attack or stroke. However, this study revealed that poor dental health in childhood was also associated with an increase in blood pressure and body mass index in early adulthood.

Oral health is a priority as it is a part of overall health. For a full oral examination, contact our offices to book a consultation with one of our dentists that work very well with young and older children. 

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