Our Children Are At Serious Risk!

Untreated tooth decay is the most common preventable childhood disease in the world that can lead to death.

In the United States, un-treated caries is present in approximately 15% of children and adolescents, rising to 20% in minority children and 25% among those from below 100% of the federal poverty threshold, reflecting profound geographic, ethnic, and income disparities.[i]

Untreated caries:

  • Can lead to abscess (a severe infection) under the gums which can spread to other parts of the body and have deadly consequences.
  • Is over five times as common as asthma among children ages five through 17 years.
  • Can lead to periodontitis, a direct consequence of both local and systemic factors, such as plaque or malnutrition.

Research has shown that 30% of children ages six to 12 missed school due to dental issues. Children from the ages five to 17 in the U.S. missed over 2,000,000 school days due to dental issues. Children’s dental health is vital to their development and keeps them focused and confident in school.

The Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene on Children’s Overall Health

Many of us are unaware how unhealthy teeth and gums can promote other medical problems, especially in kids. In the last ten years, researchers have drawn links between bad oral health and serious medical issues in kids, including:

  • Halitosis (Bad Breath) When you forget to brush your tongue and floss your teeth, you leave behind small food particles that collect smelly bacteria. It breaks down just like old food in your garbage can, causing your kid to have bad breath.
  • Brain Development Bacteria trapped by plaque travels to major organs like the growing brain. Rather than focusing on growth and development, your kid’s brain now has to battle inflammation.
  • Heart Disease Studies have shown that oral health can have an indirect impact on kids’ cardiovascular health. In some cases, periodontal disease could result in bacteria entering the bloodstream. The bacteria stick to the valves and walls of the heart leading to hardening of arteries (a condition known as atherosclerosis). This can cause plaque to accumulate on the inner walls of arteries, leading to decreased blood flow. Kids participating in sports and other physical activities will suffer poor performance due to this.
  • Lungs According to a study appearing in the Journal of Periodontology, gum disease could increase the risk of respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These infections are caused when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.
  • Kidneys Gum disease is also connected to higher incidences of pancreatic and kidney diseases. Bacteria in the bloodstream make it difficult to manage blood sugar levels and can also have an effect on other medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Narrow Blood Vessels High levels of disease causing bacteria in the mouth puts your kids at higher risk of clogging of the arterial wall and high blood pressure later in life. When bacteria enter the blood through gums, there is reduced blood flow to vital organs that interferes with growth rate and optimal function of your kid’s body.

Links between Depression and Oral health

Depression can be linked to a range of health issues, including oral health issues. It can lead to:

  • Neglected oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Drug-induced xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Avoidance of the dentist
  • Increased risk of bruxism (tooth grinding)

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[i] (Bruce A. Dye, Xianfen Li, & and Gina Thornton-Evans, NCHS Data Brief No. 104, August 2012)