Poor Oral Hygiene
If you’ve already taught your kids to brush and floss their teeth every day to avoid cavities, good for you. But cavities aren’t the only problems children can develop when they have poor oral hygiene. Tooth decay, bad breath and a not-so-bright smile can also result. Get a dentist talking about the dangers of poor oral hygiene, and you’ll get an earful.
Children and adults alike can suffer serious health conditions from poor dental care. Many issues are caused by periodontal disease, an infection that starts in your kids’ gums and can spread to the teeth, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament. Periodontal disease turns your child’s mouth into a direct pathway to the rest of his body for harmful plaque and bacteria to travel.
Many Affected Issues
It can’t be overstated: Maintaining a healthy mouth can help keep your entire body healthy. Your kids dentist in Jersey City Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids & Teens sees problematic health issues linked to poor oral hygiene on a regular basis. Common problems include:
- Diabetic issues. Periodontal disease and inflammation of gum tissue can affect the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, which makes diabetic symptoms worse. Children with diabetes are also more likely to develop periodontal disease, making it even more vital for them to brush and floss regularly.
- Cardiovascular conditions. Poor dental hygiene can lead to heart disease. If your child contracts periodontal disease, inflammation creates bacteria that travel through the bloodstream to the heart, causing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). For kids, this can serve as a precursor to heart problems as they age. When arteries harden, plaque grows on the walls of the arteries. This plaque thickens, which decreases or blocks the flow of blood. Atherosclerosis increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. The infection from periodontal disease can also cause the heart’s lining to become inflamed and infected, a condition called endocarditis.
- Respiratory infections. Gum disease can cause the spread of infection to your child’s lungs, which may cause pneumonia. While this doesn’t seem like an obvious cause-and-effect connection, think about breathing in bacteria from infected gums over a long time.
- Studies show a correlation between cancer and gum disease. Specifically, pancreatic cancer is often related to gum disease, as is oropharyngeal cancer. Experts believe there is a link between gum disease and these types of cancers, although their correlation has yet to be scientifically proven. Still, the Dr. Mila Cohen takes it very seriously.
- This condition is a weakening of the bones. It’s often present in periodontal disease. Osteoporosis typically affects bones in the back, hip and waist, while osteoporosis of the mouth is usually centered in the jawbone and teeth. Clinical studies currently underway aim to prove that inflammation caused by periodontal disease also affects bones all over the body, not just in the teeth and jaw. This can play a vital role in bone development in young children.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. That swelling can also cause warmth, redness and severe pain in the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis refers to joints on both sides of your body — such as both wrists, both knees or both hands. When dentists treat periodontal disease, it helps reduce the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
- Lung conditions. Pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are worsened by periodontal disease. The condition occurs through an increase of bacteria in the lungs.
- Obesity. Good oral care can help you lose weight. Studies have shown links between gum disease and obesity. Periodontitis also progresses more rapidly in the presence of higher levels of body fat.
Most of these conditions are ones that typically affect adults, but your children can develop them too if they aren’t brushing and flossing regularly. Make sure they visit Dr. Mila Cohen kids dentist in Jersey City on a regular basis. They may have an infection in their gums or mouth and not even be aware of it or of the complications periodontal disease can create. Other common problems linked to poor dental hygiene are:
- Weak bones
- Pregnancy issues like low weight of the baby at birth
- Disorders in the immune system
Periodontal disease is serious, but gingivitis is actually more common. If your kids have poor oral hygiene, they can develop gingivitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the gums. Bacterial infections are the source of gingivitis. Untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.
Periodontitis and gingivitis are the leading causes of adult tooth loss, according to the American Dental Association. Another reason for good oral hygiene is in your pocketbook. Dental work cost Americans about $111 billion in 2013 according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
The Cause of Gingivitis
The space between your teeth and gums is called a sulcus. Food can get caught in the sulcus and cause an infection or gingivitis. Gingivitis can make the gums separate from the teeth, which causes injury to the bone supporting the tooth and the soft tissue around it. This can lead to unstable teeth and even tooth loss.
The effects of poor oral hygiene begin to show even in teens and young adults. Dr. Mila Cohen kids dentist in Jersey City is trained in detecting poor oral habits. She knows how to talk to your kids about how to take care of their teeth so they won’t have problems in the future.
Set Your Kids on the Path of Good Hygiene Habits
Now that you’re aware of the many dangers linked to poor dental care, you should encourage your kids — and your entire family — to adopt healthy dental hygiene habits. This includes brushing their teeth after every meal using fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and using a mouthwash for bacteria. Visiting Dr. Mila Cohen Jersey City kids dentist every six months for cleanings and a check-up goes a long way in the prevention of cavities and promotion of good oral hygiene.
Here’s a basic checklist to make sure you and your kids are exercising good oral hygiene:
- Brush two to three times daily — or after each meal
- Floss once a day — before bedtime
- Replace toothbrushes every two to four months
- Make sure you brush the gum line to get hard-to-reach bacteria
- Schedule an appointment with your dentist every six months