Excessive computer use linked to poor oral health in teenagers

Teenagers who spend three hours or more on computers are more likely to neglect their oral health.

Researchers found spending longer on the computer meant 18-year-olds were less likely to brush, floss and visit the dentist.

‘There is growing evidence to suggest that computer use is linked with a number of health problems for teenagers,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘Much of the attention in the past has focused on 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.

‘While the internet and computer games can often prove a necessary and important distraction, it is important that children prioritise their health.’

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Skipping school

Twice-daily brushing dropped below 50% amongst boys with excessive computer use, the study found.

Bleeding gums is 25% more likely in teenagers spending more than three hours on their computer.

Children are also almost twice as likely to miss school due to dental pain.

‘There is an urgent need for more education; both on the consequences of excessive computer use, and the benefits of maintaining good oral hygiene,’ Dr Carter continued.

‘These need to be communicated to children and families before it begins to negatively effect their health and wellbeing.’

Increasing sugar consumption

The longer teenagers spend on a computer, the more sugar they will consume, the study also shows.

Fizzy drink and juice consumption increased for those who spent more than three hours on the computer each day.

These teenagers were also more likely to skip breakfast and eat less fruit and vegetables.

‘Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease for children in the UK and it is caused by having too much sugar,’ concludes Dr Carter.

‘The harm caused by sugar is clear to see.

‘It’s resulting in thousands of children across Britain having fillings, and in the worst cases, rotten teeth removed.

‘By cutting out snacking and keeping sugar consumption to mealtimes, teeth are able to recover and are far less prone to tooth decay.’

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