Bad Oral Health Leads to Other Problems for Children

Children with bad oral health or dental disease see the problems impact their lives in several ways.

One of the main ways involves the issues they encounter at school, according to a study done by the Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California. The information appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The study was compiled after analyzing about 1,500 disadvantaged elementary school children in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The study compared their grades and attendance and looked at how the information matched up with their oral health records.

The figures showed that 73 percent of the children had dental caries. According to the study, children with tooth pain were about four times more likely to have a low grade point average in comparison to the children with good oral health.

There was also a clear correlation between children with dental pain and an increased number of absences.

The research showed that elementary school children missed about six days of school per year and high school students missed 2.6 days per year. For the elementary school children, 2.1 days were missed because of dental pain, on average. The figure was 2.3 days missed for high school students with dental pain. The parents also missed 2.5 days of work to care for their children with dental pain.

The transportation aspect was also a factor in this problem. About 11 percent of the children with a low ability to receive dental care—based on lack of insurance, the lack of access to transportation or other miscellaneous reasons—missed school for that reason. Just about 4 percent of children that had access to dental care missed school.

More dental education is necessary for parents to ensure that they understand the type of pain their children may be dealing with.



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