Does Poor Oral Health Equal Bad Grades?

Does Poor Oral Health Equal Bad Grades?

Good grades and dental health are two things you wouldn’t think to connect, but a recent research from Ostrow School of Dentistry tells otherwise. In a study of 1,500 schoolchildren from socioeconomically challenged families where dental appointments were uncommon, low GPAs and poor attendance were observed. The study said that children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low GPA.

On the other hand, good oral health and good grades are two things that are hard to balance. Children aren’t always enthusiastic when it comes to brushing their teeth and parents have more important concerns to attend to, right?

This kind of mindset is the exact reason why some children are failing at school. We are failing at their oral health.

The Correlation

There are a couple of main factors that contribute to lower grades due to bad oral health. First issue is that the child is distracted by tooth pain and is unable to learn and perform optimally. If a young student is taking a test or listening to a lecture with tooth pain, they will probably not make the highest grade or retain all of the information from the lecture. Secondly, students with dental issues often will have to miss class more than children with better dental health. More time in the classrooms means not missing a test or an important lecture which will result in better grades. This does not only affect the children’s lives. Consequently, adults also miss 2.5 days of work on average taking care of their children suffering from dental issues. Common key findings of several studies on schoolchildren’s dental health reveal the following:

  • 79% of our schoolchildren already have tooth decay by the time they reach third grade.
  • Only 23% of low-income school children have protective dental sealants.
  • There are about 46% of kindergarteners who have untreated tooth decay.
  • An average of 9% of third graders go to school every day while trying to be patient with the pain of tooth decay.

The main problem is that schoolchildren are forced to miss school because of certain dental problems. Majority of school-aged children are suffering from tooth decay with 15% of them having rampant decay. It’s a sad thing because we know that tooth decay is entirely preventable, if only adults were responsible enough to take charge and promote good dental habits on a daily basis.

What Can We Do?

Does-Poor-Oral-Health-Equal-Bad-Grades As adults, we are mainly responsible for our children’s oral health care since they learn good dental practices from us. While the percentage of school children who suffer from dental problems is alarming, it’s never too late. Acting on it now can save them from further dental pains and discomfort while helping the rest of their generation from experiencing any of it.


As parents, it is necessary for you to know how important good dental habits are. Educate yourself with the common dental issues that children might experience considering their normal eating routine and preferred diet. Learn how children can take care of their dental health and help them turn it into a routine.

Know Your Child

Knowing the nature of the child and how they handles their oral health practices can help you monitor their dental state. Children born prematurely are more likely to have enamel hypoplasia or the lack of teeth’s protective coating. This makes them more susceptible to damaged teeth and tooth decay because their teeth aren’t strong enough yet to resist impact and other damages caused by bacteria. If your child was prematurely born, have them checked by a dentist and see what you can do to save them from future dental problems. Understand that there are kids who need closer dental attention than others and you need to monitor them more often.

Follow-up on children’s missed school work

It would be of great help to schoolchildren if teachers give supplementary work to those who miss school because of dental problems. This will help them catch up with lessons and will give them the opportunity to get better grades. Also, work closely with parents and encourage them to give their children the dental treatment that they deserve.

Start early with dental health practices.

Your child deserves a regular dental visit to help them take care of their teeth. Ideally, you can start visiting dentists with your child once they turn 2 years old. In infancy, you can start taking care of his tender gums by giving it a gentle wipe using a clean, damp cloth. If you start early, they’ll be more accustomed to getting regular dental checkups and anxiety would not be much of a problem.

Looking at our school children’s dental health from a macro perspective is somehow scary and disturbing. The good thing is we can always start in the simplest of ways done with a little patience and hard work. Schools from low income communities should also work with the local dental support organizations and be informed of free dental programs that children can utilize. Finally, take dental diseases seriously and make proactive solutions to every dental problem that your child may have.

Valerie M. Preston

Valerie M. Preston, DDS is an expert in both restorative and cosmetic dentistry. She has more than two decades of active dental practice under her belt and continues to update herself on the latest techniques and technology. That is why patients are assured of high quality service from her. Custom fit dental appliances are made with care and accuracy using the latest technology in dental practice. Dr. Preston is currently affiliated with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the North Carolina Dental Society. She owns and manages a dental office in Raleigh aptly named VPreston Dental.

Valerie M. Preston

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