August 29, 2018

Oral Health and School Performance

There have been a number of improvements in oral health over the last 100 years. However, oral health in America is still a major issue. Today, researchers are working to improve the situation. The topic of oral health and school performance has become one focus of their research.

Typically, research into oral health has looked at what is going on within the mouth at the individual level. More and more, researchers are studying the effects of a wider variety of social and economic factors on oral health.

In addition, the focus has grown to examine the effects of poor oral health on some measures of well-being, including, for example, school performance.

Oral Health and School Performance: What the Research Tells Us

In 2008, researchers at the Chapel Hill School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina published their findings on the impact of general and oral health on children’s school performance. The researchers reviewed data from telephone surveys with parents and guardians of children ages 0 to 17.

Researchers have found that together, poor oral health and general health significantly impact school performance.

Researchers have found that together, poor oral health and general health significantly impact school performance.

The survey included questions on oral health and school performance. The sample included 2,871 school age children.

The researchers found that, “the interaction of poor oral health and general health were significantly related to school performance.” In addition to oral health, the researchers found that sex, race, parental education, and low socioeconomic status we’re also significantly related to school performance.

The study authors noted that, “children with both poor oral health and general health were 2.3 times more likely to report poor school performance.” On the other hand, according to researchers, “children with either poor oral health or general health were only 1.4 times more likely to report poor school performance.”

Additional Research Findings

Following this report, the researchers published another article in 2011. For this report, the researchers looked at the number of school days missed for routine dental care and compared that with days missed due to dental pain or infection. They wanted to see if there was a relationship between school attendance and performance and children’s oral health status.

The study sample in this case included 2,183 school-age children. A review of the data revealed that, “children with poor oral health status were nearly 3 times more likely than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain.”

The authors of the study note that school absences for oral pain were, in fact, associated with poorer school performance. On the other hand, they found that school absences related to routine care we’re not associated with poorer school performance. Whether or not students missed school due to oral pain, the analysis revealed oral health status was nevertheless associated with school performance.

Set Your Children Up for Academic Success

The researchers concluded that children who have poorer oral health were not only more likely to experience dental pain. They were also more likely to miss school and more likely to perform poorly in school. According to the authors, “These findings suggest that improving children’s oral health status may be a vehicle to enhancing their educational experience.”

So, how can you help improve your child’s oral health status? We designed many of our resources to help you do just that. In addition to dental insurance and related information, several of our blog posts focus on oral health and children.

For example, check out the following:

Back to School Dental Care Checklist: Could a school dental care checklist help your kids do better this year? As the new school year begins, here are our top items to include on your back to school dental care checklist.

Summer Dental Exams and Cleanings: The American Dental Association recommends two dental exams and cleanings each year. However, it can be a challenge to get kids to the dentist during the school year. For school aged kids, schedule dentist visits during summer and winter vacations to help keep their oral health on track.

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