As parents, the health of our children is a huge priority in our lives. This means making sure they keep up to date on shots, eat healthy, and get outside to play, exercise and socialize. Many people do not realize that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, and as dentists we know that a healthy mouth is key for overall health and wellness. A new study has given us more insight on the effects of tooth decay on our children, and has given us a new reason to be diligent of our children’s oral health.

mother and daughter brushing teeth in the bathroom

Tooth Decay and Growth

The study, which was conducted at University College London and King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital in Saudi Arabia, and published in the online Pediatrics journal examined the potential link between tooth decay and inhibited growth in 417 Saudi Arabian children between the ages of 6 and 8. The oral health of the children was graded using the DMFT scale which scores the seriousness of decayed, missing, and filled teeth. The children had a mean DMFT score of 5.7 +/- 4.2.

Even given secondary variables, such as other dental health, social, and demographic variables, there was a strong correlation between the seriousness of the tooth decay and those children being underweight and short.

Researchers proposed that there was a complex relationship between dental cavities and decreased growth. Direct impacts included included decreased food intake, leading to undernutrition and increased risk of infection.

Indirect impacts include the immune responses that impair appetite and bone modeling, endocrine responses that impair sleep, and metabolic responses that lead to caloric wasting, increased caloric demands, and malabsorption of nutrients from food.

Not Just Children

In the US, about 40% of children have tooth decay, with about 20% of them having untreated tooth decay. This means that a significant portion of our youngsters could be suffering ill effects from cavities.

But it’s also important to note that these effects aren’t limited to children. Although we are not growing as much once we reach adulthood, our bodies are still impacted by chronic oral disease effects that can impair the regrowth of bones, alter our ability to sleep, and make it difficult for our body to absorb vital nutrients. And the problem is even more widespread among adults, where 91% of adults age 20-64 have cavities, with as much as 40% having untreated cavities.

It is sad that a preventable disease is causing so many health issues for so many people. Fillings have come a long way from the metal amalgam that we had as children, but it is always better to maintain healthy teeth as opposed to trying to repair damage from decay. Not only is brushing twice and flossing once daily key, but so is eating a healthy diet with limited sugars.

At Contemporary Dentistry, we are all about safe, natural, and holistic methods to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Prevention is always preferable to replacement or repair. If live in the Rochester area and are looking for tips to maintain a healthy mouth, or are looking to address cavities or other issues you may have with your teeth and gums, please pay our dentists a visit. Give us a call at (585) 244-3337 to schedule an appointment today.