From both an anatomical and health perspective, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the human body. Diseases and ailments in as well as deformation and loss of one’s set of teeth can lead to a variety of issues and concerns in a person’s life, later on, be they psychological or physical. Maintaining one’s optimal overall health in the long term thus starts right from childhood with regular checkups and teaching children about proper dental hygiene and care.

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1. Windows to Overall Health

Oral and dental health are windows and indicators of children’s overall health. Poor dental care can be a result of mental health concerns, and inflammation and infection in the teeth have been demonstrated to be linked to disease in other parts of the body like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Additionally, pain and other symptoms that impair communication and eating can result in impaired dietary health and socialization and distract from learning and other activities.

2. Socialization & Self-Esteem

As children communicate with their peers at school or elsewhere, the teeth are an often visible marker of overall appearance and health. As a result, teeth that are in poor condition can invite ridicule from other children and lower one’s self-esteem and confidence, which in turn can diminish proper socialization and interfere with other areas of development and growth.

3. Independence & Bodily Autonomy

Teaching children how to best care for their teeth and maintain their oral health promotes independence and self-sufficiency as well as identification of one’s own body and bodily autonomy. As dental hygiene is a lifelong commitment, a sense of pride can be instilled in children, and imparting the relevant knowledge is a chance for parents to bond with their children at home.

4. A Place in the World

As mentioned before, the proper maintenance of a child’s dental and oral health can prevent the onset of other potentially life-threatening illnesses down the line that could impair the formation of relationships and families, socialization, identity formation and peak confidence, an optimal quality of life, a robust career trajectory, a longer life expectancy, and a host of other things that could deprive children of their best lives and society of them.

5. Cultivating Commitment

As mentioned previously, maintaining dental and oral hygiene is a lifetime commitment. Therefore, impressing on children the value and benefit of successfully honoring them will surely cultivate and improve their resilience and success in honoring other such lifelong commitments that will likely be part of the many milestones to be navigated and crossed later in and indeed all throughout their lives, including things like marriage and academic and career goals. 

6. Mental Health

As poor dental and oral hygiene can be a result of mental health concerns or a breakdown of social structure, maintaining one’s dental and oral health can be a preventive measure against isolation, depression, and other issues by providing structure and boosting the child’s confidence and overall sense of well-being. This can end up building positive momentum as the child progresses into adulthood and beyond while failing to maintain dental health can lead to a downward spiral instead.

7. Economic Considerations

Failing to maintain dental and oral health can lead to multiple potential health concerns down the line for the child entering adulthood, which in turn can result in increased medical expenses involved in correcting and reversing a lack of dental and oral care throughout childhood, which can adversely affect parents of children as well as the children after they have become financially independent adults.

8. Effects on Lifestyle

According to a Westerville Family Dentist, a dentist in Westerville, OH, the overall condition of the teeth is affected not only by things like brushing and flossing but also by dietary and other lifestyle habits. As smoking cigarettes and consuming sugary foods and drinks can damage teeth, dental hygiene can also result in better dietary and lifestyle decisions that can have a profound effect on things like weight, energy levels, and even overall life expectancy.

Though the teeth and mouth form two parts of the human body, they, like all other body parts, while distinct, work together for the body’s optimal overall function. So dental and oral health provides a useful indicator for one’s overall health, and therefore instilling healthy dental and oral habits early in childhood will be more likely to lead to better outcomes for that child later in life.

About the Author

Becca Meyers

Guest Blogger

Becca is a java junkie from the West Coast. She enjoys dancing with her husband and has a knack for finding the next big indie boardgame. You can always find her sitting in her nook searching for vegan recipes. 

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Maintaining one's optimal overall health in the long term thus starts right from childhood with regular checkups and teaching children about proper dental hygiene and care.

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