Study Finds Kids with Heart Problems Have More Oral Health Complications

Seaside family dentist

As a Seaside family dentist, Dr. Santos knows that the oral health needs of his patients vary by age. Senior patients may require more frequent dental care when compared to younger patients to maintain their oral health. But even younger patients may require more care, especially if they have an underlying health concern.

Children with heart conditions have a higher likelihood of developing toothaches, cavities, and bleeding gums, according to the results of a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If oral bacteria enter the bloodstream, children with heart disease could have a higher risk of developing conditions like infective endocarditis, reported the research team. This rare condition causes inflammation of the heart’s inner lining and can be life-threatening.

“Considering the risks, preventative dental care (i.e., check-ups, dental cleanings, radiographs, fluoride treatments) to maintain oral health is important,” wrote the study authors.

Understanding the Risks

As part of their study, the research team examined data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health between 2016 to 2019, comparing the oral health status and recent dental care needs of kids with and without heart conditions.

Approximately 10 percent of kids and teens between the ages of 1 to 17 with a heart condition had “poor” to “fair” oral health, compared to 5 percent of kids without any heart problems. Roughly 17 percent of those with heart conditions also had symptoms of poor oral health, including cavities and tooth decay.

Additionally, one in six kids with a heart condition hadn’t received any preventative dental care (such as x-rays, exams, or cleanings) over the last 12 months.

According to the research team, children with heart conditions may have a higher likelihood of developing cavities and poor oral health for various reasons. These children may have undergone surgeries or other procedures that make it harder to care for their teeth and gums.

Kids with heart conditions may also have behavioral issues that make dental care more challenging, both at home and at a dental office.

Certain types of heart medications can also create issues, including dry mouth, which is known to cause cavities.

For parents with a child with a heart condition, preventative dental care can significantly help to reduce any poor oral health outcomes.

Protecting Your Child’s Oral Health

As a Seaside family dentist, Dr. Santos understands what it takes to help protect patients’ oral health.

To offset the risk their kids’ oral health can face from an underlying heart condition, parents can make a renewed commitment to providing their children with the proper preventative dental care.

Starting with brushing and flossing at home, parents also need to schedule regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Santos and our team at Seaside Family Dentistry. Frequent exams will allow Dr. Santos to monitor your child’s oral health, spotting any potential signs of trouble early on while still easily treatable. Considering the associated risks with poor oral health, a child’s access to dental care mustn’t be impeded.

If you have any questions about your child’s oral health or what is needed to be done to protect the state of your child’s smile, feel free to contact our office. Dr. Santos and the rest of our team will happily answer any questions you may have regarding the best practices for ensuring your child enjoys a healthy smile for a lifetime.