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Poor Oral Health Linked to Poor Academic Performance

What Does Oral Health Have to Do With Learning?

A study in the June issue of The Journal of Pediatrics investigated whether there was an association between poor oral health and poor academic performance.

How was the study done?

Using the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children’s Health, researchers collected data from over 45,000 children ranging from 6-17 years old. Oral health data was evaluated by looking at current oral health status and any problems over the past year. Academic performance data was evaluated by looking at school performance and number of days missed due to health issues.  The data was then run through fancy computer models and analyses to take into account demographics, sex, socioeconomic status, type of insurance, etc.

So what’s the deal?

Children’s oral health status is related to academic outcomes. The results of this study show a direct relationship between poor oral health and poor academic performance. Children with oral health issues were more likely to have problems at school, miss more than 1 school day, and/or miss more than 3-6 school days. The study found that children with poor oral health were 90% more likely to miss more than 6+ days of school compared to their good oral health counterparts.

So improved oral health means smarter kids?

Not necessarily. Having good oral health does not directly influence a child’s intellect, but it can decrease the chance for problems at school and missed school days, which influences academic performance.

What can parents do to improve oral health and school performance?

  • First dental exam by 1 year old
  • Talk to us about introducing fluoride toothpaste when the first tooth erupts
  • Talk to us about dental recommended breastfeeding habits and practices
  • Minimize between meal carbohydrate snacks
  • Minimize exposure to sugar sweetened beverages
  • Let us be your dental home!