Anyone who has ever visited a dentist knows that dentists want you to take steps to improve your gum health. Healthy gums keep your teeth healthy, but that might not be all. If your child's future health is important to you, here's why a lifetime of good oral hygiene practices needs to start now.
Gum Disease and Bodily Health
Gum disease is a common problem that many people go through, ranging from gingivitis all the way to periodontitis. While gum disease might not seem like a big deal until the later stages, it can actually cause a lot of problems for the body.
Science has found a link between poor gum health and cardiovascular health problems, like a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. While the complete reason behind this mechanism isn't known just yet, scientists believe that the bacteria responsible for creating plaque and gum infections can actually get into the bloodstream. Once there, it creates inflammation and cellular damage wherever it goes, and can cause scar tissue to build up in the arteries or heart.
While your child is unlikely to experience any cardiovascular health problems in their youth, the less inflammation their cardiovascular system experiences in life, the better. That's why good gum health should start now and continue through their adult life.
If the risk for heart problems wasn't enough, it's a frightening discovery that the brain and gum health might be linked, too.
Science has previously found a link between developing Alzheimer's and gum disease, as the plaque that forms on the brain due to Alzheimer's is the same as what develops on the gums. However, a new study has found an even more definitive link between the two, leading scientists to believe that maintaining good gum health might lower the risk of developing this life-threatening brain disease.
Once again, this isn't something that your child will experience now. However, they are building habits at this age, and without a good oral hygiene habit, someday this could be in their future.
What to Do
Most young children don't have the determination or dexterity to floss easily, but that's okay. There are now other ways to help keep gums and teeth healthy that don't require floss.
For starters, depending on your child's age, you can help to improve their tooth brushing habits. While tooth brushing alone isn't enough to keep gum disease at bay, it does play a role, and plaque-encrusted teeth are more likely to trigger gum disease.
Furthermore, you can introduce older children to water flossers and handled floss. Both of these tools eliminate the risk of choking on a strand of floss, and can be used even with less-dextrous young hands.
Finally, make sure that you're taking your child in for dental visits as often as your dentist recommends. This will ensure that gum disease is caught and treated early on, and that your child's teeth remain tartar free, which will help to reduce their risk.
Gum disease and tooth decay are a big problem for people of all ages, so make sure your child is getting the oral hygiene help they need now. Work with them at home to build good habits and your child will have a lower risk of developing these diseases in their future. Contact a clinic, like Dentistry For Children, for more help.