Over the last generation, we have learnt that many health issues in our bodies are connected to our mouths and gums. This connection can go two ways. Poor oral health can cause heart and artery problems, bad enough to be life-threatening. Other health problems can have symptoms that appear in our mouths, even as their cause lies elsewhere. Undoubtedly more dental health connections are yet to be discovered.
Studies in the last few years have linked height and weight issues with child tooth decay. The study strongly suggests that early tooth decay in children precedes lower height and weight when the same child grows older. The connection is proportional; greater tooth decay more often existed in children who later suffered stunted growth, being lower in weight and height.
The mechanism of this problem, decayed teeth linked with reduced weight and height, is uncertain. There is a possibility both are symptoms of an unseen cause; children in poor health might well suffer in many areas, including height, weight and compromised teeth; Malnutrition could be the underlying reason. But as fluoride treatment seems to reduce both tooth decay and the associated height/weight problems this outside is in doubt. Apparently poor teeth and decay, bad enough on their own, also leads to many other health issues, including stunted growth.
Being used to the idea that sugary junk food causes both obesity and poor teeth it almost seems counterintuitive to believe that decaying teeth stunt growth. But despite the confusing findings, the answer is nothing new. We still need a sensible diet and properly cleaned teeth if we are to remain healthy. It is old advice, but now there is even more at stake.
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