The Links Between Poor Oral Health and Excessive Computer Use

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As summer draws to a close, and the weather steadily gets worse, you might find that your children tend to spend longer in front of a screen, whether it be a laptop, tablet or PC. If your child is spending three hours or more in front of a computer daily, their oral health is at risk, a new study shows.

The study examined more than 1500 18-year olds, and found that those that spent longer on a computer were less likely to brush their teeth, floss and visit the dentist. The results are particularly worrying for boys, where twice-daily brushing dropped below 50% for those with excessive computer use. Further findings discovered that kids with excessive computer use are up to 25% more likely to suffer from bleeding gums, and almost twice as likely to be absent from school because of dental pain.

In addition to this, more studies have shown that the longer teenagers spend on the computer, the more sugar they consume- the amount and frequency of fizzy drinks and sugary snacks all increased for those with more than three hours of computer time a day. This, coupled with a decrease in brushing, will undeniably wreak havoc on a person’s oral health.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of a leading dental charity, believes the results could call for education about the dangers excessive computer use to be included in educational programmes promoting healthy lifestyles. He says: “There is growing evidence to suggest that computer use is linked with a number of health problems for teenagers. Much of the attention in the past has focused on its relationships with obesity, smoking, drinking and changes in behaviour. However, we are now seeing signs that it could affect a person’s oral health as well.”

In England, nearly half of 15-year olds and a third of 12-year olds have obvious signs of tooth decay, so while the internet and computer games can often prove a necessary and important distraction (especially during wet summer days), it is important that children prioritise their health.  Brushing for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is the most effective way they can keep their mouth clean and healthy and stay free of dental disease. Here at Strand on the Green Dental Practice, we believe there is an urgent need for more education; both on the consequences of excessive computer use, and the benefits of maintaining good oral hygiene.  These need to be communicated to children and families before it begins to negatively affect their health and wellbeing. If you would like to book an appointment for you or your child here at Strand on the Green, just give us a call on 020 8995 0298 and we’ll book you in as soon as possible.

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