Early childhood caries are now the number one chronic childhood issue, and poor oral health can have a negative impact on your child’s life. Poor oral health can lead to malnutrition and poor performance at school.
“Sadly, the reality for many children is very real and persistent dental pain from improper oral hygiene,” says Dr. Nanna Ariaban, a children’s dentist in Alpharetta. “Because many children, especially young children, can’t often vocalize the source of their pain, we can see tooth and gum pain lead to anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and poor performance in school.”
And studies continue to show that children with better oral health are more likely to perform better in school than children with poor oral health. One study based in North Carolina found a striking link between school performance and oral health.
Children with poor oral health were 40 percent more likely to struggle in school than those with good oral health.
This same study also found that children with poor dental health were three times more likely to miss school due to their oral pain.
Some studies have also shown that disadvantaged children experience poor oral health at higher rates, and therefore have poorer school performance records. In one study in Los Angeles public schools, 1500 disadvantaged children were studied. Researchers found that of the children who reported experiencing tooth pain, they were four times more likely to have a low grade point average than children who experienced no pain.
Studies show that the worse the oral health status of a child is, the more likely he or she will miss school due to the pain.
This will then negatively impact their school performance. “We often see a link between those of more disadvantaged backgrounds and poor oral health,” says Dr. Nanna. “This can be because they have less access to professional cleanings and prevention education. But it is important to note that decay can affect everyone. Without proper care, children of all backgrounds are susceptible to decay and the negative effects it carries with it.”
One national survey has shown that nearly one in nine children ages 9-11 have untreated decay in permanent teeth. Other studies have revealed some striking facts about tooth decay and children:
- For children ages two to five, 70% of decay is found in only 8% of the population.
- Roughly 1.5 million American children will experience some level of early childhood caries.
- Children between the ages of two and five who have not visited a dentist in the past 12 months are more likely to have decay in their primary teeth.
- 50% of all children have never visited a dentist.
“My staff and I work hard to ensure our patients and their parents are armed with as much preventive education as possible so we can work together to prevent decay,” says Dr. Nanna.
“Tooth decay can be extremely painful, and can negatively impact all areas of your child’s life.”
If your child does not currently have a relationship with a pediatric dentist, make an appointment as soon as possible. Children should see an dentist every six months, and parents should work hard to make oral care a priority in their homes.