While many people are aware of the fact that foods and beverages containing excess sugars can cause cavities, did you know that black mold can also cause tooth decay in children? If you find this surprising, you are not alone. Black mold is not something that most people think of when it comes to the causes of tooth decay. Nevertheless, recent research has shown a direct correlation between children exposed to black mold and tooth decay.
Black mold can be found with the carpet, drywall, or insulation of your home. In order for mold to grow, there needs to be moisture, warmth, and a food source. Oftentimes, mold can develop as a result of a leak or in places that are frequently damp. Unfortunately, mold can also develop in sippy cups that are not cleaned properly or replaced frequently enough.
Although exposure to mold can cause a number of health problems, you are probably wondering how it can cause tooth decay in children. In cases where mold is found in sippy cups, the fungus can enter the mouth and begin feeding off the naturally-occurring bacteria. Although the primary fungus found in black mold, Candida does not normally adhere to the teeth, it can adhere to the cheeks and tongue. This can cause a problem known as oral thrush. In some cases, however, Candida has been found to use the same glue-like polymer as the bacteria that causes tooth decay. This ultimately allows it to become a component of dental plaque and adhere to the teeth.
Mold can also be harmful to your child’s dental health if it is part of their environment. When a house contains black mold, mold spores are inhaled and affect the mucous membranes within the body. Mold spores have been found to irritate these mucous membranes and can cause various symptoms such as:
- Burning sensation
- Skin irritation
- Watery, irritated eyes
When these symptoms become chronic, they can compromise the mouth’s ability to protect itself. For example, the body will naturally produce more mucus than usual in order to combat the toxins found in mold spores. This results in congestion of the nose, which causes children to breathe through their mouths. Mouth breathing causes dry mouth, or a decrease in saliva production. However, saliva is essential for strengthening the enamel and decreasing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease. Less saliva production means an increased risk of developing these dental issues.
Additionally, mold spores can also cause problems with the sinuses. Inflammation of the sinus cavity is called sinusitis, which can be associated with tooth pain. Additionally, sinusitis may occur repeatedly as a result of fungi growing in the sinus cavities that continues to excrete mold toxins.
As you can see, black mold can have negative impacts on not only your child’s overall health, but their oral health as well. Specifically, instances where they are able to consume black mold through a sippy cup or by being exposed to it within the walls of your own home can both cause eventual issues with tooth decay or gum disease. Not only that, but by affecting your child’s overall health, black mold can continue to prove detrimental.
Dr. Marielena Torres began her education at the Universidad Central del Este, San Pedro de Macoris, where she received her Doctor of Dentistry degree in 2004. From there, she went to New York University to obtain her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2009. She then received her Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA, in 2011.