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Tooth decay can have far-reaching effects on a child’s life. Untreated decay can cause pain and infection that may lead to difficulty eating, speaking, socializing and sleeping, as well as poor overall health. Dental problems also negatively affect school attendance and performance.
A new study provides additional evidence of the connection between dental health and school performance. Researchers examined nearly 1,500 disadvantaged students in the Los Angeles public schools, matching their oral health status to both their academic achievement and attendance records. Children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade-point average—below the median GPA of 2.8—when compared to children who had not had dental pain.
This should concern parents and policy makers because the last national survey showed that roughly one out of nine children aged 9-11 have untreated decay in their permanent teeth. In addition, children with dental problems are more likely to have poor oral health as adults, which can hinder their job prospects.
The Pew Children's Dental Campaign just launched a new web page and video that explore the connections between kids' dental problems and their ability to perform well in school. The brief video includes soundbites from Pew's Shelly Gehshan, Minneapolis teacher Lynn Nordgren and a high school student in Baltimore.
The website/video can be accessed at: www.pewstates.org/dental-affects-school. Consider sharing the video/web material via your social media, e-newsletters or other vehicles.