The Dangers of Caring For Your Children’s Teeth But Not Your Own

woman smiling with kid smiling on her back

As a mom, I understand that your kids are your top priority. If you have extra money, you spend it on them first, yourself second. I get it. But too often, I see moms (and dads) neglecting their own dental health to ensure their kids get the best of everything, and that can be a very dangerous thing.

We recommend everyone, young and old, get a dental exam and professional dental cleaning every six months. However, in the craziness of modern-day life, it’s common for moms (in particular) to put off a cleaning or an exam. “I’ll get to that later” seems to be the common refrain, as you’re too busy to fit in an appointment with today’s hectic schedules.

If time isn’t a constraint, then maybe money is. Most dental exams are covered by insurance, but if times are tight, you might choose to delay that insurance co-pay or any out-of-pocket expenses. So you put off the bi-annual appointment. Then you put off the annual appointment.  And then the next thing you know, it’s been six years since you’ve been to the dentist.

That’s when you get into trouble. Believe it or not, I’ve seen moms spend a ton of money to have dental work and/or expensive braces for their kids, but forsake their own dental health. When they do get around to visiting me, they have cavities or periodontal disease.

Here are three dental health hazards that could occur if you neglect your own oral care and focus solely on your kids:

  • Cavities. It may not hurt (yet), but you could have a cavity that’s forming as a result of bacteria. Left untreated, the problem may get worse, and you may eventually require more expensive dental treatment. Even worse, you could wind up losing a tooth. Keep in mind cavities don’t just come from excessive sugar or neglecting to brush your teeth. A carbohydrate or a starch can also be the starting point for a cavity.
  • Periodontal disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is not always something that hurts, and often people won’t take action until they feel pain. However, gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. That’s why oral health needs to be thought of in the same way as going to get a physical every year. Gum disease can also be genetic. You and your children may have a genetic predisposition to gum disease. That’s why, even if you take care of your teeth regularly, a regular dental examination is important.
  • Oral cancer. Do you go to the doctor for routine breast cancer screening? Of course you do. So why wouldn’t you do the same for oral cancer? It’s expected that approximately 42,000 people would be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013, the fifth year in a row in which there was an increase in the rate of occurrence. That boils down to 100 new individuals each day in the US alone.

When detected at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. And where do you think that detection is most likely to occur? In the dentist’s chair, when you’re examined by a dentist who is specifically looking for early signs of the disease.

Look, I understand you put your kids first. I do too. But you also have to achieve a balance, and make sure you’re taking care of your own oral health. You will serve as a role model to your children as to how they should lead a healthy adult life.

The next time you make the dentist’s appointment for the kids, make one for yourself. Your kids will thank you for it.

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