Children with poor dental care suffer in school

There are many reasons why families delay proper dental care. Finances are at the top of the list. What isn't fully comprehended is that this sporadic or absent care has a doubly harsh effect on children.

Published research in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrated that children with dental pain were three times more likely to miss school than their pain-free counterparts.

A summary of the research:

  • Objectives. We examined school days missed for routine dental care versus dental pain or infection to determine the relationship between children's oral health status and school attendance and performance.

  • Methods. We used 2008 data from the North Carolina Child Health Assessment and Monitoring Program. The study sample, weighted to reflect the state's population, included 2183 schoolchildren. Variables assessed included school absences and performance, oral health status, parental education, health insurance coverage, race, and gender.

  • Results. Children with poor oral health status were nearly 3 times more likely (odds ratio = 3.89; 95% confidence interval = 1.96, 7.75) than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain. Absences caused by pain were associated with poorer school performance (P < .05), but absences for routine care were not. Mediation analyses revealed that oral health status was associated with performance independent of absence for pain.

  • Conclusions. Children with poorer oral health status were more likely to experience dental pain, miss school, and perform poorly in school. These findings suggest that improving children's oral health status may be a vehicle to enhancing their educational experience.

Any distraction is detrimental for our children in school. The above study confirms how important dental health is for them. We never want our kids to hide their beautiful smiles and we sure don't want them in any pain. We all perform better when we feel good and when we are confident.