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Teeth Can Predict Future Mental Health of Children, Says Study
Archaeologists have long used teeth to reveal information related to lifestyle, cause of death, and ancient civilizations. However, a recent study reported by the Daily Mail suggested that teeth can give us information about the future. Researchers have found that teeth can predict the likelihood of mental health problems such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression, in children.
The missing baby teeth of six-year-old children were studied and it was found that children with thin enamel may be at risk of developing attention deficit disorders. Lead author Dr. Erin Dunn, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that while such a discovery may be commonplace for archaeologists, it is surprising in psychiatry because it opens up a ‘gateway to a whole new perspective for screening mental health disorders, which is on the rise.
Differences in the quantity and quality of teeth predictors of better mental health
Dr. Dunn said it was something they had never seen or thought of before. Her team included anthropologists, public health practitioners, and archaeologists and she presented her work at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAs) in Washington.
The researchers asked 37 parents from California to donate their 6-year-old children’s teeth when they fell off. Each tooth was examined using high-resolution images. This analysis was later extrapolated to examine children’s behavior. Compared to other biomarkers that psychologists typically look for, tooth quality and differences in size have been found to be better predictors of mental health.
Scientists across fields need to work together
Dr. Dunn said it was important for scientists across fields to work together because it would add more dimensions to research. She said that scientists usually tend to be isolated and work with people from the same field. For example, psychiatrists only worked with psychologists and psychologists only worked with psychologists. People usually refrain from moving across subjects or exploring other related aspects in research.
Dr. Dunn said that this study is proof of the need for more interdisciplinary science and how more efforts will allow a person to look at things from different angles that may be completely unexpected.
Warning signs of mental illness in adolescents and teenagers
Sometimes, it can be very difficult to tell if the behavior of a child or teenager is a normal part of growing up or something else. If the symptoms persist for weeks or months, it is worth visiting a healthcare professional. Some warning signs of mental illness are:
Feeling extremely nervous and anxious all the time
Throws tantrums and gets irritable
With frequent headaches, stomachaches and other unexplained pains
Trouble sleeping with frequent nightmares
Low or no energy
Smoking, drinking or drug use
Engaging in self-harm and other risky behaviour
Losing interest in things they used to enjoy before
Having trouble doing well in school or sports
The road to recovery
Good mental health is important for the overall well-being of children as well as teenagers, as these are their growing years and will shape the child’s personality in the future. For many adults with mental health problems, the symptoms were present when they were growing up but went undiagnosed or ignored. Therefore, it is important that a mental health disorder is detected early and gets a timely diagnosis.
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