Is The Rise In Measles And Tooth Decay Linked?
Greenwich Practice Principal Dr Sandeep Patel explores what these issues may have in common.
On the face of it, you might think that measles and oral health issues have no common links. It is certainly true that one does not directly lead to the other.
There are important lessons to be learned though in how measles, once almost eradicated from the UK, is now becoming a serious problem once more.
A direct link?
As we said earlier, having measles does not lead directly to tooth decay, and vice versa. It is worth saying though, that any illness is likely to mean that we take less good care of our teeth. If we are tired, listless or in pain, brushing our teeth twice a day will probably be one of the last things on our mind. As with any illness, although it may not be our number one priority, we should still take care to brush and floss our teeth regularly.
The real link
Where the two problems are linked is through misinformation. It is widely agreed that the current rise in measles is largely down to parents refusing to let their children have the MMR vaccine. There was a lot of concern from parents when this vaccination was linked with autism. This report was subsequently dismissed by most of the medical profession, but the damage was already done; with groups of concerned parents gathering together on Facebook and similar social media platforms, encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children.
As the incidences of measles rose, Facebook was finally encouraged to ban these groups that were spreading false information, sometimes with the best of intentions, but harmful misinformation nonetheless. As measles spread, others who had not had the vaccination became infected, increasing the rise in cases.
How is this related to your teeth you may ask? The reality is that there is an awful lot of misinformation available on the internet. Some of this is deliberate, and aimed at people for commercial reasons. ‘Influencers’ too sometimes offer ‘quick fixes’ to whiten or straighten your teeth without the need for a visit to the dentist, usually for financial reward. Some information is just wrong and potentially harmful and is often simply ‘forwarded’ or ‘re-tweeted’ without much thought at all. Each time this happens though, more people may take decisions about their teeth and gum health based on potentially harmful information.
Where should I get information about my teeth from?
It would be unrealistic to expect people not to search the internet for symptoms or general information about their oral health, at least as a first step. What is important here is to make sure that you use reliable medical and dental websites, such as the NHS. Pages such as this one ( https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/dental-health/ ) may be a useful place to start your queries.
Ultimately though, the best place to go, especially if you feel that you might have a problem, is to your local Confidental Clinic dental practice. It is only through an examination and investigation that a correct diagnosis can be made so that you can have the relevant treatment.
Regular readers of our blogs will also know that we cover a lot of common dental topics there and you can use the search facility on the top right of the page to find general information about your oral health care here.
Please don’t allow your teeth and gums to deteriorate due to poor information; our dental team is here to help you have healthy and attractive teeth. You can make a convenient appointment to see one of our Greenwich team by calling the Confidental Clinic on 020 8858 1422.