It’s no secret that the health of family members can be linked to our own. Similar living conditions, habits, and genetics are passed down from one generation to the next and these factors contribute to the health of our teeth and gums. Developing good oral habits as a child often starts with the help of a child’s parents and these habits will often carry on into adulthood. The problems we have as children can mean oral health problems like gum disease, tooth decay, tooth staining, and tooth loss as an adult. Here at Dentistry of Nashville, we offer a range of dental services to deal with these oral health problems. However, we believe prevention can be the most useful tool for keeping a healthy, beautiful smile. Recent studies have confirmed that a mother’s health may be more important to the oral health of their children than originally thought. Drs. Elam, Vaughan, and Fleming explain the recent study that links chronically stressed mothers to children with more dental cavities.
Children With Cavities and Chronically Stressed Mothers
The study from King’s College London and University of Washington found more dental cavities in children with mothers who have chronic stress as opposed to mothers who don’t. The study took a look at 716 maternal-child pairs from data collected by the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination survey from 1988 to 1994. Researchers assume that this connection is due to the association of a mother’s chronic stress to lower chance of breast-feeding and fewer dentist visits for children. Breastfeeding has not only been proven to be beneficial for an infant’s overall health, but studies also show that the child will be less likely to develop a misalignment. Fewer dental visits and a decrease in the likelihood of feeding their child breakfast can also play a role in the oral health of a child.
Researchers warn that this study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between chronic stress of mothers and poor dental care of a child. Chronic stress has been proven to be more prevalent in mother’s who earn a low income. Poverty plays a role in the biological and psychological response of a mother. The study found that biological markers of chronic stress include high levels of blood fats, blood sugar, blood pressure and waist circumference.
What is Chronic Stress?
So, what exactly is chronic stress and what will it do to a mother’s body? The human body is designed to react to stress to protect you against predators. Although nowadays we don’t worry about predators, the body will still react to daily hassles as if they are threats. Daily stress causes your hypothalamus to set off an alarm in your body that prompts the adrenal glands. As a result, the hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are released. Cortisol is known as the main stress hormone and it increases the sugars in the bloodstream. It also curbs normal human functions with the digestive system and immune system during this fight-or-flight period of time. Adrenaline will increase a mother’s heart rate, increase blood pressure, and boost energy supplies in the body. The long-term exposure of this physiological response can cause several health conditions for a mother. This chronic stress can affect a mother’s ability to instill healthy oral health patterns for her children.
Other Oral Health Factors Affected by Mothers
Chronic stress isn’t the only health aspect of mother’s that will affect their child’s oral health. Other studies show that a pregnant woman’s Vitamin D intake will affect her baby’s oral health. Vitamin D is important because it promotes the absorption of calcium from food and the re-absorption in the kidneys. The study from the University of Manitoba found that babies with mother’s who have low levels of Vitamin D have a higher chance of early dental cavities and tooth enamel problems. Mothers should take care of their vitamin intake as well as their stress levels to ensure great oral health for their baby.
Contact our Office in Nashville, TN
A mother’s poor health doesn’t just mean problems for her down the road; It will also mean problems for her children as well. You can avoid these oral health problems in your children by keeping an eye on your vitamin and stress levels. Chronic stress can be devastating for a mother’s overall health and the health of a child’s smile. If you or your child are in need of dental work, we offer a variety of services that will get a smile looking healthy again. We encourage you to take a look around our site to discover different options like teeth whitening, periodontal treatment, and dental implants we offer. If you have any questions regarding treatment, contact our office at (615) 383-3690.