As parents, one of our biggest concerns is maintaining our children’s health to guarantee their well-being and chances of success in this world.  But, when we think about taking care of their oral health, we usually do it to fix a current problem such as a cavity or to achieve a perfect smile as we mostly view our dental care as an esthetic issue, meaning that we avoid going to the dentist’s office unless we have reached a situation that brings us either pain or messes up our image.

And though having a beautiful smile can have a wonderful effect on boosting our self-esteem, helping maintain our emotional well-being by increasing our self-confidence, and helping us create stronger connections with the people in our lives, we often forget how our dental health can impact our overall health.

Cavities and Tooth decay

While cavities tend to be the most common issue in children in America, when they are not treated correctly and in due time, the cavities can transform into tooth decay which not only affects a child’s physical appearance and speech, causing shyness or limitations in their social interactions but can also cause infections, that brings along significant pain. Having a mouth infection can bring issues in your child’s mood, mental well-being, capacity to sleep, and learning abilities. And in some cases, tooth loss has also been related to both weight loss and obesity as a person gets older.

Doctors are also noticing a connection between a lack of good oral health practices with suffering heart conditions since mouth infections can cause inflammation in the heart and its valves. Meaning, having inflammation due to tooth loss or gum disease can translate into Endocarditis and Cardiovascular disease.

Maintaining health in Pandemic times

We are aware of how our lives have changed and continue to change in pandemic times, which has led many of us to take a lot more precautions around any type of respiratory conditions that could endanger our little ones’ bodies and immune systems to get sick.

A good dental practice is an easy way of prevention since oral bacteria have also been linked with causing Pneumonia by passing the bacteria from the mouth to the lungs, which can either cause the condition or worsen it.

Diet and the pleasure of taste

Nutrition is a big part of this too. When we suffer from oral pain, our capacity to enjoy our diet is compromised, and so is our digestive system. If we can’t chew our food properly we may experience stomach aches, a lower capacity to process the nutrients we consume, intestine failure, irritable bowel syndrome, or many other digestive issues.

And, if we live in constant pain, we decide to opt for foods that are easier to chew instead of what they give us in dietary value or even in enjoyment; the quality of nourishment and pleasure our bodies receive goes down the drain when avoiding discomfort becomes the priority.

Other conditions to be aware of

Periodontal bone loss (caused by gum disease) and tooth loss are also quite common in patients with osteoporosis. And a recent Cochrane study, conducted thirty trials with 2443 participants, shows that the treatment of periodontitis disease in Type 2 Diabetes patients has resulted in lower blood sugar levels.

Cancer, eating disorders, immune system disorders, pregnancy complications, and low weight at birth are also side effects of complications due to poor oral care.

Prevention is the key

Although fixing a cavity can seem as easy as making an appointment in your dental office, the price to pay for the pain and all the side effects the condition can cause in your daily life simply doesn’t make sense if they are avoidable.

Living with pain or even an emergency visit to the dentist can signify missing school which also leads to poorer school performance. So, when we talk about oral health we are indeed talking about the increase or decrease in the quality of life of your family. And while in the past few paragraphs, we’ve explored the infinite ways in which dental health can influence our general health and your children’s, our focus is to showcase how it can also help us prevent many of these cases.

By teaching and implementing good oral hygiene practices into our daily lives, as well as our kids’ lives, we can create a positive change in our overall health.

A good dental health practice

Some of the ways you can do this are:

-Teach your kids how to brush their teeth for at least two minutes after every meal.
-Don’t forget brushing their tongues is part of brushing their teeth.
-Make sure to get a new toothbrush every three months.
-Use dental floss every night before bed.
-Introduce water as your child’s main hydrating beverage.
-Include Vitamins A and C in your kid’s diet helps prevent gum disease.
-Avoid sugary foods, especially between meals. Candy is best consumed after meals, not as snacks.
-Schedule periodic check-ups at your dentist’s office. Twice a year seems to be an appropriate minimum.
-Apply Dental sealants to your kids as a prevention measure. They are shown to avoid cavities in 80% of the cases in the first two years after applying.
-Be aware of bad breath, bleeding, or discomfort of your child in case of needing dental care outside of the periodic check-ups.

Make it fun

And remember that the best way to teach your kids about incorporating new practices in their lives is not by telling them to, but by showing them your example. You can make your dental health time a fun way to share family time with games, songs or simply spending time together.

When you make dental care a fun thing to do, and you choose to work with professionals in pediatric dentistry that are committed to making their space and practice an enjoyable experience for your kids, you don’t have to worry about them being afraid or refusing to go to their check-ups. To learn more, check out our previous article on the importance of re-care appointments.