Children with heart conditions are more likely to have frequent cavities, toothaches, or bleeding gums, according to a new study from the CDC.
If oral bacteria travel into the bloodstream, children with heart disease could be prone to get other conditions such as infective endocarditis, the researchers said. The rare condition leads to inflammation in the inner lining of the heart and can be life-threatening.
“Therefore, preventive dental care (i.e., check-ups, dental cleaning, radiographs, fluoride treatment, or sealant) to maintain oral health is important,” the study authors wrote.
The research team analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Health for 2016-2019, comparing oral health status and recent dental care for children with and without heart conditions.
About 10% of children and teenagers ages 1-17 with heart conditions had “poor” to “fair” dental health, as compared with 5% of kids without heart problems. About 17% of those with heart conditions also had symptoms of poor oral health, such as decayed teeth or cavities.