New study finds childhood oral infections raise the risk of atherosclerosis in adults
(NaturalHealth365) Most parents are never told how childhood oral infections can affect the health of the arteries. Today, we’ll explain how this happens and, more importantly, what you can do to prevent damage to your child’s cardiovascular system.
Atherosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of the arteries, slowly and silently results in blockages that can eventually lessen or cut off blood flow. It’s a common cause of stroke, heart attack, and peripheral vascular disease – together known as heart disease.
And, while we already know that atherosclerosis is largely preventable, one new study suggests that the prevention of this life-threatening condition may begin in childhood. A recent 27-year follow-up study found that oral infections in children raised the risk of atherosclerosis when children became adults.
Warning: Oral infections and cavities in kids linked to hardening of the arteries
Other studies have shown that progressed inflammation and infections like periodontitis are associated with cardiovascular risk factors in adults.
Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, has specifically been studied quite extensively and is considered an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and other heart and vascular disease. However, The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is the first link researchers have found between oral infections in children and atherosclerosis in adulthood.
This study got started back in 1980. Clinical oral exams were done on more than 750 children, and follow-up for the study was in 2007.
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At this point, ultrasound exams were done to measure the thickness of the carotid artery. Among the children who had more signs of oral infections – bleeding, fillings, periodontal pocketing, and cavities – researchers found a thickening of the carotid artery wall, which shows the progression of atherosclerosis.
Both gum disease and tooth decay were significantly associated with a thickening of the carotid artery. And this thickening of the arteries increases the risk for both stroke and heart attack.
Be sure to check for oral infections
The takeaway from this study: the oral hygiene habits of children have a long-reaching effect on their health. Preventing and treating oral infections is critical in childhood, and this new information only emphasizes its importance.
What can parents do to prevent oral infections that increase the risk of atherosclerosis later in life?
Doubling down on oral hygiene routines can help. Brushing twice daily and flossing are both essential to the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dental cleanings and checkups are also crucial.
Some other good oral health habits include: rinsing with a sea salt solution (daily); use of a hydrofloss and essential oils (clove, peppermint or neem) plus the avoidance of sticky foods, like sweet ‘energy’ bars.
However, beyond dental hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentists, it’s also essential for parents to pay attention to their child’s diet.
According to the World Health Organization, sugars are one of the most significant factors in the development of dental caries (tooth decay). A higher intake of sugar results in a higher incidence of decay.
Limiting sugar in your child’s diet and encouraging a healthy diet packed with fruits and vegetables is another step you can take to prevent oral infections and later in life, atherosclerosis. And, finally, let’s not forget the importance of minerals in the diet – which can be obtained from dark leafy green vegetables or sea vegetables like kelp or wakame.
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Sources for this article include: