Poor Child Dental Health Risks That May Surprise You

According to a new report from the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, your child’s oral health has an impact well beyond their teeth. Entitled Oral Health and Learning, the report outlines how poor oral health can affect a child’s learning and productivity in school, and ultimately how productive they are as adults.

Unfortunately, millions of kids are living with “persistent dental pain, endurance of dental abscesses (infection in the mouth), inability to chew foods well, embarrassment about discolored and damaged teeth, and distraction from play and learning,” according to the report.

Here are some of the more compelling findings from the report:

  • Kids are more likely to have emotional issues if they also have dental health problems, including feeling “worthless and inferior, shy, unhappy, sad or depressed.”
  • Kids with oral health problems average nearly one more missed day of school a year.
  • Children with oral health problems have a higher probability of not completing their homework.
  • Oral disease can lead to a diminished appetite, depression, and a inattentive child, which in turn leads to poor school performance.
  • Kids in low income families who experienced toothaches in the prior six months were six times more likely to miss school than children in the same economic bracket who did not have a toothache.

The moral of the story is fairly simple. Children who are not getting proper oral care are more likely to be living in pain and missing out on school or under-performing. The effects are far reaching. So while it’s important for all of us to have a beautiful smile, it may also play a role in what kind of adults our kids turn out to be.

Consider Dental Sealants for Your Kids

While brushing and flossing can help keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy, it’s not always so easy to get into every crevice on a consistent basis where food and plaque reside. Dental sealants, thin protective coating that is applied to teeth, help stave off tooth decay. It protects these vulnerable areas in molars and premolars from tooth decay by sealing out the unwanted plaque and food. While some people are concerned about whether sealing our children’s teeth as a preventative measure is the right thing to do, evidence shows it can be an effective way to prevent cavities. For instance, a 2008 study by the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent nonprofit organization, found that 5- to 10-year-olds with sealants had less than half the decay on their teeth’s biting surfaces five years after treatment than kids who brushed regularly without sealants.

The Application of Dental Sealants

Applying dental sealants is a quick and painless procedure. In just a few minutes, your child can have their teeth sealed and protected from decay. The teeth are first cleaned thoroughly then dried. A solution is applied to the chewing surface to help the teeth bond with the sealant. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. The sealant is then applied to the tooth enamel, which bonds to the tooth and hardens. Once the quick process is done, your child can be protected from tooth decay for many years. That said, regular check-ups are needed to be sure they stay in good condition, and if not, get replaced as needed. It’s important to note that if you decide to have sealants applied to your children’s teeth, it shouldn’t be treated as a license to let them eat all the sweets they want. The general health implications are obvious, but also remember that not only are many teeth still susceptible to decay, dental sealants do not protect against gum disease. Dental sealants are an elective procedure, as such it’s up to parents to decide whether or not it’s the right choice for their kids. If you have questions or concerns, please come in for an appointment with Dr. Morelli and he can help you make an informed decision.