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The connection between your oral health and overall health

Updated: May 18, 2023

Your child’s oral health can tell a lot about their overall health. Research shows more than 90 percent of diseases that affect the entire body show up in the mouth as swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth, or excessive gum problems.

The opposite is also true. How your child takes care of their teeth can affect their overall health. When your kids do not brush or floss regularly, it increases bacteria in the mouth and can spread into the body. Once it does that, it can weaken the immune system or increase the risk for other diseases – not to mention it decays teeth and can make your child feel self-conscious about smiling or talking in front of others.

What health issues a dentist can see

The mouth has been described as the window to the body, which is why regular dentist appointments are so important. Dentists are trained to examine beyond teeth and gums and look for symptoms of more widespread problems before they get worse. Some diseases the dentists can detect include:

  • Diabetes

  • Leukemia

  • Oral cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Osteoporosis

What personal habits a dentist can see

Not all issues are as serious as a disease, but they can still do damage to a child’s developing teeth and gums. During an exam, dentists look at how personal habits impact oral health. For instance, the dentist can tell if your child:

  • Flossed right before their appointment, and that’s the only time

  • Bites their nails

  • Sucks their thumb

  • Vomits frequently

  • Has a sinus infection

  • Has a vitamin deficiency

  • Drinks a lot of sugary drinks

Daily practices to keep your child’s teeth and overall health looking good

  • Before issues arise, the following oral health practices will keep your child focused on being a kid instead of dealing with uncomfortable health conditions.

  • Brush teeth for two to three minutes, twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush along the gumline!

  • Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach

  • Eat a healthy diet to provide essential nutrients (vitamins A and C, in particular)

  • Carefully follow your physician’s and dentist’s instructions about health care, including using prescription medications, such as antibiotics, as directed

  • See us at the dentist office when your child has any unusual oral symptoms like bad breath, mouth sores, red or swollen gums or sore jaws

When oral health is a priority, along with a healthy diet, your child can thrive into adulthood with the good habits you help them establish early on.

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