New research from Brazil has suggested that children with cardiac defects are more prone to suffering from poor oral health at a very young age than other children are. The study found that the incidence of caries was significantly higher in children with congenital heart disease.

In order to analyze the oral profile of children with congenital heart disease, pediatric dentists reviewed the dental and medical records of 144 girls and boys aged 3 to 5 who had been diagnosed with the condition.

They found that more than 80 percent of the children had at least one carious lesion — the mean DMFT score (the sum of decayed, missing and filled teeth) was 5.4. The analysis demonstrated that the number was higher in children with congenital heart disease whose parents had a lower level of education. In the study, over 52 percent of mothers and almost 46 percent of fathers had only an elementary school education. Higher caries prevalence was associated with fathers with a lower level of education in particular. The absence of a father in one-parent families also seemed to have an effect on oral status.

Moreover, the researchers suggested that the consumption of liquid medicine sweetened with sucrose increases the incidence of caries and gingivitis too. In the study, they found that more than 63 percent of the children drank medicine on a daily basis.

In addition, almost 22 percent of parents mentioned that dentists had refused to treat their children in the past — a factor that may also have contributed to the poor oral health status of the children.

According to the researchers, heart diseases occur in about 10 in 1,000 births. These patients often have poor oral health and commonly have developmental enamel defects, which increases the risk of dental caries. The attention and care given to treating the cardiac disease may cause oral health to be underestimated or not given the due importance, they said.

They emphasized that oral care is frequently suboptimal in children from developing countries, especially in children suffering from severe systemic diseases. Therefore, education on the importance of dental care needs to be improved, the researchers concluded.

Original Source: The Dental Tribune.com

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