Poor dental health is nothing to smile about, particularly for school children. Tooth decay and gum disease in childhood can have lifelong effects on a person’s well-being.
You might be thinking: what’s the big deal? It’s just a cavity. That’s where you are wrong.
Poor dental health in children can lead to:
- Poor academic performance
- Overall quality of life
This is particularly true for kids from low-income homes. Tooth decay affects 25% of low-income children, about twice as many as from higher income families. 
Studies show that untreated tooth decay is the most common preventable disease among children worldwide. It’s five times more common than asthma among children aged 5 – 17 years. 
Infection and pain from poor dental health can have long-lasting and detrimental effects on academic performance and absenteeism. In fact, US students lose more than 51 million hours of instructional time each year because of dental-related illness. 
Kids with tooth pain often demonstrate anxiety, fatigue, negative self-esteem, and even depression. 
Studies have found that kids with poor dental health:
- Have more problems at school and are less likely to do their homework 
- Miss one more school day per year than kids with good dental health 
- Are four times as likely to have a grade point average below 2.8 if they have had a toothache in the past six months 
- Are six times as likely to miss school days due to oral health problems 
The problems don’t end there.
Poor dental health becomes a downward spiral. It affects nutrition. Poor nutrition can exacerbate tooth decay, and tooth decay often makes it hard to eat. If untreated, tooth pain can cause problems with speaking and learning, as well as eating. 
Research shows that when a child’s oral health problems are treated, their learning and attendance begin to improve. 
Habits are set in childhood, and if you don’t take care of your teeth as a child, you are not as likely to change as an adult. This is unfortunate because poor dental health can affect your career success in later life, according to the American Dental Association. 
Additionally, poor dental health affects overall health and well-being. Poor dental care can lead to cavities and gum disease. These have been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 
Proper dental care provides better academic performance, lower absenteeism, better overall health, and well-being, not to mention life success down the road.
And that’s the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth.