Every year kids miss valuable school days due to dental problems. They end up spending time in the dentist’s chair rather than at their desk. The dental health of children is critical for their overall health and well-being. When it isn’t properly cared for, poor dental health can impact essential parts of a child’s development.
Untreated tooth decay affects 1 in 5 children aged 5-11. It’s one of the leading dental problems in children today. Additionally, the rate of untreated tooth decay doubles when we look at low-income children compared to high-income children.
The good news is that untreated tooth decay in children is dropping. In 1988, 24.4% of children had untreated tooth decay. In 2011, it fell to 18.3%. It fell again in 2016, down to 13%. Tooth decay is 100% preventable, and basic oral health habits like brushing twice a day and going to the dentist regularly decrease the prevalence of cavities. Dental sealants also contribute to the decrease in tooth decay in children.
Dental Problems and Daily Life
When anyone, adult or child, experiences pain or discomfort in the mouth, it impacts their ability to function. They experience a:
- Decreased ability to concentrate due to pain.
- Decreased self-confidence from an unhealthy smile.
- Lower attendance rate because of dental appointments.
- Decrease in their performance, whether that’s lower grades or abilities at work.
- Change in ability to speak correctly.
The Dental Health Of Children In School
Dental problems can lead to children missing partial lessons or entire days of school. 30% of children ages 6-12 missed school due to dental problems. This refers to treatment that is past preventive care and does not include regular bi-annual dental appointments. Children in the U.S. missed over 9,000,000 school days in 2016 due to dental issues—that’s an alarming number!
The dental health of children is vital to their development. Parents admit that it’s harder to get their kid to brush and floss than it is to have them do their homework or make their bed. Starting good oral health habits now will lead to a healthier smile throughout your child’s life.
Editor’s Note: Content updated February 2019.