Understanding, and staying on top of, the connection between how certain foods and habits affect one’s oral health can be a challenge. This is doubly so for parents of children with chronic illness. Many conditions result in weakened immune systems, and the interplay between oral health and chronic illness becomes a two way street -- with the illness creating complications with oral health, and vice-versa. Educational vigilance, therefore, is paramount. So what are the best ways to stay in the loop when it comes to this very important information regarding the health of your children? Here are our two best suggestions:
- Over-communicate: Because certain chronic illnesses can place children at greater risk for a range of oral health problems, and dental care can place these same children at risk for complications that increase morbidity, parents must err on the side of over-communicating with their dental and health care teams. In some instances, you may wish to connect these health care providers so they can communicate directly to ensure nothing is missed.
- Remain educated: Be sure to subscribe to updates published by associations related to your child’s illness to stay on top of all health related news that can affect your child. Advances in treatment, warnings, and other pertinent information are bountiful on these websites, so stay abreast of the news surrounding your child’s illness. You can also set up news alerts using Google News to capture anything pressing and essential to your child’s health.
Below is a list of chronic illnesses where oral health concerns commonly crop up. It is far from exhaustive, but a good starting point for additional research. Again, with any chronic illness, following the above two steps will always help you to stay ahead of the information curve.
- Structural congenital heart disease
- Bleeding diatheses (e.g. haemophilia)
- Chronic suppurative lung disease (e.g. cystic fibrosis)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Chronic renal disease
- Organ transplantation
- Craniofacial abnormalities (e.g. cleft palate)
- Learning disabilities Down’s syndrome
- Children in intensive care
- Head injuries
- Burn injuries
- Social deprivation