March 14, 2024

The Long-Term Effects of Proper Childhood Dental Care

Dental Care

Parents of young children are undoubtedly familiar with the morning and nighttime ritual of getting kids to brush their teeth. Kids may or may not embrace that routine no matter how hard parents try to relate the benefits of proper oral hygiene, but moms and dads can take solace in the knowledge that childhood dental care can have a positive and lasting effect on kids’ overall health.

Dental care and heart disease
Harvard Health Publishing notes that numerous studies have now shown that people with poor oral health exhibit higher rates of cardiovascular issues, including heart attack and stroke. The reason behind that remains something of a medical mystery, but some theorize that bacteria that infects gums and causes conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis trigger an immune response, inflammation, that then contributes to vascular damage.

Dental care and Alzheimer’s disease
The National Institute on Aging reports that a recent analysis published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease noted the bacteria that cause gum disease are also linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. That analysis found that older adults with signs of periodontitis, a condition marked by inflammation of tissue around the teeth that can cause loosening of the teeth, were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Additional research is necessary before more concrete conclusions about the link between dental care and Alzheimer’s disease can be made, but dental care that protects the gums could very well reduce individuals’ risk for dementia.

Dental care and cancer risk
Cancer is among the leading causes of death across the globe, affecting people from all walks of life. Researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered a link between dental care and cancer risk. In a letter published in the journal Gut in 2020, researchers reported that they found that people with a history of gum disease have a higher risk of stomach and esophageal cancers than people with no such history. And that risk was not exactly minimal, as researchers reported a 43 percent higher risk for esophageal cancer and a 52 percent higher risk for stomach cancer.
An emphasis on lifelong oral hygiene in childhood could pay lasting dividends, potentially reducing kids’ risk for various diseases when they reach adulthood.


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