Dental Care (for Children With Chronic Health Challenges)

Maintaining good oral health and dental care is vital for our mouths. However, there are many who fail to understand that our oral health can be affected by how we take care of ourselves holistically. This is because a number of chronic health conditions and conditions have been linked to poor oral health, so much so that the two are not mutually exclusive.


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Chronic Health Challenges

There are many ways in which chronic health conditions can affect oral health, especially for children. This varies by different conditions and systems of the body.


Cardiovascular Disorders

The cardiovascular system is essential for proper blood flow and to allow the heart to pump that blood efficiently. The mouth contains copious amounts of bacteria, but a mouth that is healthy will be able to fight off bacteria-causing disease. However, gum disease or infections will make one lose the ability to fight off those germs efficiently. There are also many studies that show there is an association between gum disease and cardiovascular disease.

This is because the bacteria that reside in the mouth can cause inflammation and infection. In turn, this can have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system in the form of clogged arteries, stroke and heart disease. Dental care from an orthodontist can become very complex if this happens to be the situation and the plan for recovery is typically multi-faceted. Endocarditis, an infection of the heart, is also linked to oral health because bacteria from the mouth can reach the bloodstream and attack weakened areas of the heart.



Another frequent problem that can exacerbate oral health issues in kids is cancer. More than one-third of cancer patients can expect to have problems with their mouth. This is because the method of treating cancer can weaken the immune system of the body. This allows the body to be more open to opportunistic infections. Not to mention there are also a number of side effects that can affect the mouth such as jaw pain, sensitive gums, dry mouth, and mouth sores.



Children who happen to have diabetes are also not free from the burden of oral health problems. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to process sugar is compromised. While it can be managed with treatment and insulin therapy, it can cause many problems if left untreated. A lot of these issues resonate in the mouth. In diabetics, there is less production of saliva, which allows for dry mouth and more bacteria. Gum disease, cavities, and slow healing are also very common.

The importance of a healthy diet and exercise are important to prevent diabetes in a child. Inversely, poor oral health can also cause one to be more likely to have diabetes. This is because gum disease is an infection, and infections can cause blood sugar levels in a child to rise. Gum disease left untreated will cause elevated blood sugar, and in turn, diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes also increases the time it takes for infections to heal, especially those in the mouth.


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Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disabilities also contribute to conditions that may require extra dental care. Bacteria have the capacity to travel into the respiratory tract, causing infections. This is especially harmful for many kids who have lungs that are still developing. If good dental habits are not practiced, bacteria will have more space to grow in the mouth and the throat. Not only will this exacerbate one’s respiratory condition, but one’s oral condition will gradually deteriorate. Unfortunately, this will warrant serious monitoring.

This, along with a litany of other disabilities and diseases can cause serious damage to the mouth and require extensive care by an orthodontist. Conditions that are chronic are not limited to diseases that affect the body’s systems.


Special Needs & Disorders

There are also behavioral disorders that can have adverse effects. This includes autism, hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADHD) and any other condition that can affect cognitive skills, behavior or the physical ability to perform proper self-care. This is where the responsibility is placed on the caregiver or the parent in order to assist them on a regular basis and provide for a child’s needs.

In order to circumvent some of the adverse effects of these health conditions, special precautions are needed to lessen the rate of damage. Lower saliva flow happens to be a side effect of certain medications, which increases the chance of disease. This means that the signs of tooth decay need to be observed more frequently.


Practicing Good Habits

Proper care of the teeth also starts in the home by practicing good habits. It naturally makes sense to do whatever is possible to ensure the proper health of the gums and teeth. This begins with proper brushing and flossing and limiting snacks between meals. Regular appointments with a professional are also crucial for the sake of testing and observation.

Having a good toothbrush with soft bristles is a great first line of defense. Preferably, you will want to brush the teeth twice a day. One specific dental behavior that is often ignored, but vital, is flossing. Flossing helps maintain good oral hygiene by getting rid of excess food and material that can get stuck in between the teeth and facilitate the development of bacteria and cavities. Using a light touch, curve the floss around the tooth and rub it in between the gums.

Watching what a child eats is also important, and it is imperative for the parent to supervise their diet. Many kids are prone to having sugar, but sugar is a tooth’s worst enemy. A child’s sugar intake should be limited. Avoiding foods that can stick to the teeth easily such as dried fruit or chewy candy should also be limited, or preferably avoided.



Contact us Today

As you can see, chronic health conditions may warrant extra care for their oral health. While some of these drawbacks can be influenced by good dental behavior, a plan of care is needed to promote optimal oral health. Dr. Nease and Dr. Higginbotham know the full lowdown on all things oral health. Call them and their expert team today.

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2455 E. Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29307
Phone: (864) 579-7700


Dental Care (for Children With Chronic Health Challenges)

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