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Chickenpox as a child, poor dental health as an adult?
Updated: 2/19/2009 3:00:41 PM

Chickenpox as a child, poor dental health as an adult? Children who endure the right-of-passage that is the condition of chickenpox may develop serious dental health problems when they are older.

A new study, published in General Dentistry, has suggested the virus that causes the disease can lead to shingles and severe bone damage to the jaws.

Varicella zoster, the chickenpox virus, can lay dormant for decades and present itself in a person's later years. Fifty percent of all new cases of shingles occur in people over the age of 60, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

"It can be a debilitating disease that can lead to osteonecrosis of the jaw and vision loss in addition to a prolonged painful syndrome," said Dr. M.A. Pogrel, lead author of the study.

Osteonecrosis is a condition causing bone in the lower or upper jaw to be exposed. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.

Laura Murcko, spokeswoman for AGD, said regular dental care appointments with one's dentist can prevent the condition from developing. Murcko also suggested people administer regular teeth cleanings at home for optimal dental health.

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