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The Link Between Children's Dental and Physical Health

A child being taught how to brush by a parent.

Keeping children healthy means ensuring all-rounded wellbeing, which includes making sure to provide proper education regarding oral health. It also means having a good pediatric dentist to keep your child’s teeth and mouth healthy. You also need to be aware that a strong connection exists between a child’s dental health and their overall physical and emotional health. Let’s learn more of their mutual impact.

Children’s Dental Concerns and Health

Everyone wants to see their children smile with a big toothy grin. A child’s smile portrays confidence, and good dental health is essential for their overall health. Dental caries (cavities) are the most common dental issue children face, and they can affect more than just their teeth.

Obesity and Diabetes

The likelihood of childhood obesity is increased in children who have dental caries, at an early age. Obesity places children at risk for childhood diabetes and other serious, chronic diseases. It also places them at a greater risk of developing unhealthy habits as an adult. It is not implied that dental caries cause obesity, but they indicate a lifestyle that increases the likelihood of developing both obesity and dental caries.


Dental caries and issues that affect the appearance of a child’s teeth can also affect a child’s self-esteem and how they interact with peers. This affects their emotional and social development. Like adults, children also require a healthy smile to carry themselves with confidence.

Difficulties Chewing or Swallowing

Poor oral health can lead to difficulties with chewing and swallowing food. This can make mealtimes difficult, and children are not as likely to chew their food properly. This can affect the digestive system. This situation can lead to abdominal discomfort, indigestion, vomiting, and other issues of the digestive tract.

Abscesses and Infections

Untreated cavities and periodontal disease can cause infections to develop. These infections can spread beyond the mouth and lead to a serious systemic infection. According to the World Health Organization, severe cavities can develop into abscesses.

An abscess is an infection that can become systemic. They are extremely painful and can cause the child to experience slower growth and development. At worst, they can become a serious infection that requires hospitalization.


Children are resilient, but if oral health problems affect their ability to chew, swallow, or digest food, it can lead to problems with malnourishment. Pain can cause a child to want to take in less food, which can affect their overall health. When the problem that is causing the lack of nutrition continues for a long time, it can lead to serious problems with malnutrition. This can negatively impact their physical, cognitive, and emotional development.

As you can see, problems with poor dental health and cavities can go beyond the one or two teeth that it affects. It can lead to the development of serious, long-term health problems for children. These problems can develop slowly, and you might not know anything is wrong until it is too late. That is why it is important to make sure your child receives regular dental check-ups starting at an early age.

A sick child being tucked into bed by a parent.

Getting Proper Treatment

One of the concerns with dental caries is that if they continue too long, they can lead to damage to the permanent teeth. One sign that your child might have problems with dental caries or other oral health issues, is if you have noticed a change in their sleeping or eating habits. Dental caries and pain in the mouth can also make your child more irritable. These signs might be more obvious than asking the child directly about any pain they have experienced.

It is important to recognize the subtle signs that your child might be having problems with their oral health. Sometimes, your child might refuse to eat certain snacks or types of food that they liked in the past. A child who is unwilling to eat full meals but wants to snack all the time can also be a subtle sign that something is wrong with their mouth or teeth.

Dental caries and issues develop slowly, and your child might not notice them at first. When caries first develop, they cause little pain or discomfort. It is only after they have progressed that pain or other symptoms might become more obvious. Children tend to show pain differently from adults. Once your child begins complaining about pain or discomfort, the problem might have progressed to a more serious form, and it is time to seek help from a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Importance of a Good Children’s Dentist

One reason why children often fail to receive proper dental care is that children do not always complain when something hurts. Also, pain can cause difficulty in diagnosing the condition. The consequences of not getting proper dental care for children can have a greater impact on their lives than on adults.

It is important to find a good pediatric dentist who can help you monitor your child’s oral health. They can take care of situations before they become worse and begin to affect their overall health. The Children’s Dental Center in Coralville, IA, specializes in children’s dentistry and can help you and your child keep their healthy smile for many years to come. We can help with check-ups, routine dental care, dental sealants, and fillings. Contact us today and one of our staff will be happy to set up an appointment for your child.

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