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New year’s dental resolutions

Each year on January 1, you might choose a resolution or two for the new year – have those goals ever included your teeth? How about your child's teeth?

Your child’s mouth is the portal to the rest of their entire body. Did you know that diabetes, low birth weight of children and heart disease can be caused by having an unhealthy mouth? Read on to find out more.

Let’s start with type 2 diabetes which is caused by our bodies resisting insulin. Insulin is secreted by our pancreas and allows our cells to remove extra sugar from our bloodstream. The sugar is glucose and it is used as fuel for the cells. When our bodies resist the insulin, the sugar remains in the bloodstream at elevated levels causing damage to several organ systems. With childhood obesity on the rise, more children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Seeing the dentist regularly and maintaining healthy teeth and gums with brushing and flossing will reduce the inflammation (or gingivitis/periodontitis). In turn, treating the inflammation will help you control your blood sugar levels. When you don’t control your blood sugar or the health of your gums, it can ultimately lead to many complications with your body, including the loss of permanent teeth.

It’s also important for pregnant women to take care of the health of their gums and teeth for the welfare of their unborn baby. Uncontrolled periodontitis, which can lead to loss of your teeth, can also have a negative effect on the unborn child. This effect is a low birth weight. Children with low birth weight can have trouble eating/gaining weight, breathing and fighting off infections when they are born. As adults they are more at risk of having diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, intellectual/developmental disabilities and obesity.

Finally, unhealthy mouths can lead to heart disease. Teaching your children good oral hygiene habits early on can help prevent gum disease in adulthood. Studies have shown that those with gum disease have 2-3 times the risk of having a stroke, heart attack or other serious cardiovascular events. Turns out that the bacteria are different in people with gum disease. It consists of fat, cholesterol and calcium that when they enter the blood stream through your gums, they build up in the arteries causing arteriosclerosis – the cause of heart disease.

Make the time this year to see your dentist regularly, brush, and floss. It’s about more than just saving your teeth, but improving your overall health.

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