It may sound cliché, but it’s true. To give your kids a healthy life, start with their mouths. I’m not trying to pull your leg here—there’s a plethora of evidence that shows dental hygiene and life expectancy are related. So if your kids’ dental health affects their overall health, it’s best to give them a good one.
What happens in your mouth inexplicably affects the whole body. Your mouth is one of the channels that lead to the rest of your innards. Any problems that occur in there can cascade into the rest of the body.
If dental hygiene and life expectancy are related, knowing how they’re connected can help prep your kids for a better dental future. And, of course, potentially set them up for longer life. Here’s how your child’s dental health affects their overall health:
Bacteria from the mouth can be pulled into other parts of the body
Your mouth isn’t the first thing that encounters environmental bacteria. Your skin takes home that prize. However, your mouth does tend to accumulate bacteria. We need to eat, after all, and while advances in technology make it easier to ensure what we eat is safe, it’s near impossible to get rid of bacteria 100%. That’s why we have body systems dedicated to fending off disease. If sanitary measures don’t catch them, your immune response surely will.
There are times, however, that the amount of invaders in your mouth overtakes your immune response. Maybe the food you eat comes from unclean sources. Perhaps you have a diet that’s high in sugar, which bacteria feed on. Or maybe your oral hygiene isn’t up to par. Regardless of the reason, this override can fill your mouth with bacteria and give it all sorts of diseases. These diseases can make their way to your bloodstream, which in turn circulates to other parts of your body. (And in the case of aspiration pneumonia, you literally inhale these germs.)
Fortunately, all you really need is a solid oral hygiene routine to counteract this problem. With each brush-and-floss session, you skim away portions of this bacterial build-up, making it easier for your immune system to do its job.
The more teeth you retain, the longer you tend to live
Aside from how much bacteria your mouth carries, how many teeth you keep throughout your life is also a crucial factor in longevity. A study by Friedman and Lamster supports this, noting how many teeth you lose can impact one’s life expectancy. In the study, they said how those elders aged 100 years lost less teeth at age 65-74 than those who did not reach their maturity. But what does tooth loss have to do with life expectancy?
For one, your teeth serve a valuable purpose in your day-to-day activities. A full set of teeth helps you consume your food correctly so most of it doesn’t end down the toilet. They also help you speak certain words—the English language, in particular, has a slew of dental sounds in its vocabulary.
Of course, a good portion of tooth loss comes from poor oral care, barring any genetic mishaps, cancer, or dental injury. Keeping your child’s teeth clean and healthy, then, is a great way to prevent any of these mishaps from happening—and maybe give them a shot at longevity in the process.