A dental visit is for teeth right? Parents forget that a visit with the Pediatric Dentist is an “Oral Health Check-up”. When Pediatric Dentists advise parents on how to best manage Oral Health, they’re hoping to improve the overall health of a growing child.

During a cleaning check-up visit, a Pediatric Dentist is also assessing a child’s oral hygiene, oral motor function, and craniofacial growth & development. These different factors can impact the strength of various vital organs, including the Heart and Pancreas.

Juvenile diabetes is often the result of Type I Diabetes, where the Pancreas produces insufficient insulin levels. The Pancreas is responsible for turning the foods we eat into fuel and managing blood sugar levels. Children with Diabetes are at higher risk for having gum disease, such as Gingivitis or Periodontitis. Active gum disease can affect how well the body manages blood glucose levels.

There are 3 easy ways to help manage blood glucose levels:

  1. Brush 2x daily in gentle circles to the gumline to remove plaque build up.
  2. Floss 1x daily to clean in between teeth and remove bacteria surrounding gum tissues.
  3. Provide a well-rounded diet that limits sugar intake from juice and sweet treats.

Remember, that while Type I Diabetes is more common in children, Juvenile Type II Diabetes is on the rise.

Having a healthy diet can also help make sure your child’s Heart is healthy, strong, and free from fatty build up as the child gets older. Seeing your Pediatric Dentist on a regular basis will help check and clean the mouth of plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. As plaque builds up on the teeth more harmful bacteria develops in the mouth. This bacteria adheres to the soft tissues and enter the bloodstreams leading to the heart. As bacteria becomes more prevalent in the bloodstream, the blood vessels narrow and limit blood flow. Children with Heart Disease will often require antibiotics prior to their professional cleaning due to the amount of bacteria that can be released during a cleaning visit if gums are inflamed. This could negatively impact their heart health.

The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a professional cleaning and exam every 6 months. Children at higher risk for poor oral hygiene, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and other medical conditions should speak to their Pediatric Dentist about the benefits of more frequent dental visits.