As parents get ready to send their kids back to school with new pencils and lunchboxes, they may want to stock up on toothbrushes and make an appointment for a dental checkup too. The National Children’s Oral Health Survey from the Delta Dental Plans Association reports that 30% (or about 8.6 million) of all 6- to 12-year-olds have missed school due to an oral health problem—slightly better than last year’s 31% figure.
Also, the survey found that children missed about 9,067,082 full school days and 4,029,814 half days due to an oral health problem. Meanwhile, 71% of parents say their child’s oral health is a top concern they think about daily, followed by their child’s grades (61%), personal finances (62%), their child’s physical activity (55%), and whom their child is friends with (36%).
“For kids, oral health issues can mean a lot more than just a cavity. They can distract from schoolwork and lead to less time in the classroom, leaving kids with more ground to make up in their studies,” said Bill Kohn, DDS, vice president of dental science and policy at the Delta Dental Plans Association. “Parents are concerned, but some simple steps can help make all the difference.”
To help parents improve the oral health of their children, Delta Dental offers several tips:
- Brush daily, using fluoride toothpaste;
- Floss to remove plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease;
- Eat a healthy diet and limit foods and drinks that are sugary or have highly refined carbohydrates;
- Drink tap water, preferably fluoridated, instead of sugary sports drinks, soda, or fruit juice;
- Get regular dental checkups.
The Children’s Oral Health Survey was conducted between December 16, 2015 and January 14, 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 1,307 parents of children ages 6 to 12 years.