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Dental Health and School Performance

A recent study was done in Los Angeles, in which they looked at the link between oral health and school performance. In a group of roughly 1,500 students, they found that 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.

Now, it is important to realize that due to methodological reasons, this study cannot establish a causative link between dental health and school performance. Nevertheless, these findings are still raising some eyebrows in both the public health and academic circles. This trend is alarming and deserves further attention. Besides this recent information, it has been known for many years the hefty toll that dental problems can take on school attendance.

Why am I sharing this information? I mean, it all seems pretty highbrow and mundane to all but the “geek class” of society, of which I cannot seem to remove myself. On the other hand, this also causes me a great deal of concern as a parent (my oldest is about to enter the first grade), as I hope to give my children every opportunity possible. What then, as a normal person with a lot on my plate, can I do to ensure that dental problems do not get in the way of my child’s best interests?

The answer, as it turns out, is that there is actually quite a bit – and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. I want to highlight just a few simple steps parents can take to avert unwanted dental problems for their children.

First of all, make sure your child sees a dentist regularly. Children normally have a much higher rate of cavities than adults, and it is important to discover these while they are relatively small and easy to treat. Also, periodic trips to the dental office are a great way to gain positive experiences in a dental setting, as well as to receive dental education and establish a lifelong habit of good oral health.

The second thing you can do is to ask your dentist about sealants. These are a great way to prevent cavities from forming, and they can be done quickly without having to use any numbing agents. Also, they are probably covered if you have dental insurance, so it is worth it to make sure your dentist has considered this treatment.

Finally, and most importantly, is to establish a healthy routine at home. Once kids are in the habit of brushing and flossing every day, as well as making healthy dietary decisions, their dental future will look pretty bright. This is the single biggest thing that you, as a parent, can do: it takes very little time, and is virtually free.

So please, do your kids a favor and make sure their dental health is well taken care of before they get into the school year. It’s worth it.

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