Yes, Even Children Can Lose Their Adult Teeth: Choices Kids Make at School that Impact their Oral Health
Like most concerned parents, you are probably doing everything in your power to keep your kids healthy–including their oral health. For instance, you may have a rule that your kids have to wear a mouth-guard while playing a sport–even if a coach doesn’t require it. You may have requested dental sealants so your kid doesn’t get any caries, or you may closely monitor their brushing and flossing habits.
Despite helping your kids’ habits at home, you can’t always anticipate what they are doing at school. Two innocuous-looking choices that affect oral health include what they eat for lunch and who they choose to hang out with.
For example, while school lunches have definitely improved over the last decade, the nutritional quality in many districts is quite poor–according to parents.com. Many cafeteria items are high in sugar, fat, sodium, and additives. Even if you pack your child a lunch, he or she may chuck it in favor of pizza or fries (let’s be honest, right?). So you are most likely wondering, how does this relate to your kids’ oral health or them losing teeth? A study shared by editor Theresa Pablos has the answer:
Study finds 99% of obese kids have inflamed gums
The vast majority of overweight and obese children show signs of gingivitis, according to a study in Diabetes Care. While the study was relatively small, the authors highlight the need for a multidisciplinary approach to care for children with excess body fat. Researchers from Argentina and California wanted to see if excess body fat in children was tied to a number of inflammatory conditions. They hypothesized that overweight and obese kids may also have periodontal disease because of the inflammatory processes of other diseases associated with obesity, such as insulin resistance (Diabetes Care, October 14, 2016).
“Obesity, considered a global epidemic by the World Health Organization, represents one of the most serious health problems in both children and adults,” wrote the authors, led by Patricia Lucia Casavalle. “In Argentina, [obesity] and [overweight] prevalence in childhood and adolescence has increased in the last decades to 34.6% of school children.”
Almost 99% of obese children and 85% of overweight children had at least some gingival inflammation. The researchers also found a statistically significant correlation between children with gingivitis and insulin resistance, a condition in which cells don’t respond properly to glucose. Read full article here . . .
Although this study only contains a small sample size, the CDC/NCHS has gathered data throughout the years that shows this upward trend of overweight children.
If obesity can cause chronic gum inflammation, these children are at a greater risk for periodontal diseases, which cause tooth loss. However, there are many initiatives you can contact to help increase the amount of junk food in your school. Some schools have changed out candy in vending machines with fruits and veggies, for instance. And while you can’t choose what your child picks at school, you can focus on home-cooked meals and exercising as a family.
Another issue kids–even young middle-schoolers–are facing is the use of e-cigarettes. If your child is hanging out with the wrong crowd, they may feel more inclined to try vaping. While you can’t always keep tabs on who your kid wants to associate with at school, you should encourage hangouts at your home while you are present. Some children are actually able to purchase e-cigs quickly online by just checking a box to confirm that they are olden enough, since security may be lax. If you don’t have parental controls on your laptop, now’s the time to look into it. You may be thinking, vaping isn’t as bad as real cigarettes, but Medline Plus begs to differ with that information:
E-Cigarettes Not Good to Gums, Study Finds
“We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins,” said study leader Irfan Rahman. These, in turn, “aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” explained Rahman, a professor of environmental medicine in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.
“How much and how often someone is smoking e-cigarettes will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity,” Rahman added in a university news release.
The researchers also found that the flavoring chemicals used in e-cigarettes play a role in damaging cells in the mouth . . . “We learned that the flavorings — some more than others — made the damage to the cells even worse,” said study co-author Fawad Javed. “It’s important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease,” added Javed, a postdoctoral resident at the university’s Institute for Oral Health. Read full article here . . .
Like the obesity study, studies on e-cigs have shown that they are detrimental to gum tissues.
If a child loses a tooth, couldn’t they just get a dental implant? If your child is in their late teens, dental implants may be plausible, but most children are not able to get them if their jaws are still growing. But children don’t need to ruin their gum tissues or lose teeth unnecessarily. Both of the previous lifestyle habits can be remedied with a parent’s and a dentist’s help.