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Poor Oral Health Linked To Lower Grades


Summer is over and the kids are back in school. Hopefully they are happy to reunite with old friends, meet new teachers, and ready to work hard for yet another school year! With the school year come a lot of “extra” duties for parents – being the taxi driver to sports practice, helping with homework assignments, preparing lunch bags, the list goes on and on! As parents, we do everything in our ability to help our kids succeed in school.

What some parents don’t realize, it that maintaining a healthy mouth will help your child in school – not just with attendance, but it will help them concentrate and perform better in school. 

Lower Grades

We have known for decades that poor oral health leads to many lost school days every year for children and more missed work days for parents. A recent study from the University of Southern California (scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Public Health) has shown that children who reported having recent tooth pain were 4 times more likely to have a low grade point average (below the median of 2.8) when compared to children without oral pain.

More Missed School Days

On average, elementary children miss 2.1 days of school due to dental problems, and high school students miss 2.3 days due to dental issues. These results show that oral health problems are a significant factor in school absences for children, work absences for parents in order to care for their children with dental problems.

What Can You Do?

Here are 3 easy steps to help you avoid these missed school and work days:

  1. Make sure that you and your children have regular dental check-ups every 6 months (or even more frequently if requested by your dentist). If your dentist recommends dental treatment, try to complete this in a timely manner as to avoid sensitivity, pain, or infection.
  2. Help your child brush and floss! Many children are unable to brush properly on their own until they are 7-9 years old. It may appear that they are brushing properly, but with your help (and expertise!), their teeth will be brushed more effectively! Parents will definitely need to assist with flossing since it is a very difficult task for children to accomplish on their own.
  3. Watch your child’s diet. Make sure your child is eating healthy meals and snacks during the school year. And especially pay attention to what drinks are good and bad for their oral health.

For good snack ideas, look here:

For more on which drinks are good/bad for your child’s teeth, look here:

(Creative Commons Photo Credit: tncountryfan on Flickr)

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