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Can a Swallowing Disorder Affect My Child’s Oral Health?

Can a Swallowing Disorder Affect My Child’s Oral Health?

Your child has a swallowing disorder and your primary concern is to ensure that they’re able to get the nutrition their growing bodies need. Unfortunately, there are a host of complications that can stem from a swallowing disorder, including poor dental health.

If you want to ensure that your child’s dental health doesn’t suffer because of a swallowing disorder, the team here at Celebrations Speech Group provides a closer look at the connection here.

How a swallowing disorder can impact dental health

Your child has a swallowing disorder and it’s all you can do to make sure that they’re able to get food down so that they have access to crucial vitamins and nutrients. Unfortunately, dysphagia, which is the medical term for a swallowing disorder, can also lead to other problems, such as poor dental health and gastric reflux.

Under normal circumstances, your child uses their teeth to masticate their food (ready it for swallowing). A critical part of this process is saliva, which helps break down the food and prepare it for easy swallowing. 

If your child has difficulty swallowing, their dental health can be affected in several ways. First, saliva can pool in their mouth and lead to drooling, which drains their mouth of saliva. Second, when your child has difficulty swallowing, food can remain in their mouth, which encourages the bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum disease.

Another problem that you may have encountered is establishing a good dental hygiene program. If your child has dysphagia, brushing their teeth can be difficult, which further compounds the issues we mention above.

Rounding out our list of concerns is that many kids with dysphagia develop gastric reflux, which sends stomach acids up into their throats and mouths. This acid can then harm the tissues in their upper digestive tracts.

Promoting good oral health in the face of a swallowing disorder

Our team has extensive experience helping children overcome swallowing disorders and that is our first line of defense for protecting their oral health. Our goal is to get to the root of the problem and improve how your child chews and swallows, which goes a long way toward eliminating the complications.

As we work toward resolving your child’s swallowing disorder, we encourage you to take steps at home to safeguard their dental health.

For example, cutting their food into small pieces can help facilitate the mastication process and clear foods from their mouth more readily.

We also recommend that you use toothpastes that don’t foam, which can exacerbate a swallowing disorder. Instead, look for toothpastes that are sodium lauryl sulfate-free, but still contain fluoride.

For very young children, make sure that you check their mouth before they brush and clear or suction out any food that you see. 

Another important tip to remember — do not use mouthwash with children who have a swallowing disorder.

There are sprays and products that we can recommend (such as a suctioning toothbrush) and we’re happy to provide you with a more detailed oral health care plan. Another great resource can be found here

For expert and compassionate treatment of your child’s swallowing disorder and a plan to preserve their dental health, please contact one of our locations in Stockton, Brentwood, or Elk Grove, California, to set up an appointment.

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