Promoting oral health in children with heart diseases
ORALPEDHEART is a randomized controlled intervention trial to explore the effect of early counselling on oral health in children with heart diseases.
We have learned from previous studies that children with severe congenital heart diseases experience notably more problems with their oral health than healthy children do.
HUS’s pediatric dentistry and cardiology join forces in a cooperation project to study if early repetitive counselling has an effect on the child’s oral health, dental fear, and need for dental restoration such as fillings.
The trial also explores the background factors in oral health and the needs for maintaining oral health.
Support for the entire family
This multiprofessional cooperation study may have a significant social and academic effect.
The interdisciplinary team of five includes a doctor in pediatric dental care, a pediatric cardiologist, and a doctoral student in oral health, among other professionals. The team was founded in 2016.
Currently, the whole team works under one roof in the New Children’s Hospital. The cardiologist and one of the pediatric dentists have known each other since they were students.
They aim to study the effect of support and information on oral health in children with heart diseases: Is there a difference in oral care habits between healthy children and children with heart diseases, and do heart children experience more dental fear? The study also explores oral health related quality of life, and the effect of tube feeding (PEG) on orofacial dysfunctions, i.e. problems with the muscles of the mouth and the face.
“Children with severe congenital heart diseases have more caries than the healthy control group, even though they have received prophylactic additional fluoride treatments. This is why counselling and support should be offered even earlier than before, that is before the children experience symptoms, such as caries,” says Principal Investigator My Blomqvist.
Oral bacteria may be harmful for children with heart diseases. When these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they may cause endocarditis, which is an infection of the valves and inner surface of the heart. Endocarditis can occur due to dental procedures, but the risk is also present at home when brushing the teeth if the child has plenty of bacteria entering the bloodstream.
The oral health in children with heart diseases has been studied before but from a different point of view. Intervention studies have emphasized enhanced caries prevention in older age groups in children whose caries bacteria have already colonized the mouth.
“ORALPEDHEART study provides support and information for the families with heart children already before the caries process begins. Our method is a recurring motivational interview. If the method proves useful, we may utilize it also in other patient groups with a high risk for caries.”
My Blomqvist wishes to emphasize that the aim of the study is to improve oral health in children with heart diseases but also to develop oral health care recommendations. Families would benefit from support and practical instructions.
ORALPEDHEART currently enrols children with heart diseases.
My Blomqvist, DDSc, Dental Specialist