As a parent, you likely think about your child’s academic performance often and want to provide them with every advantage to succeed in school. You buy educational toys, read together at home, and make sure they complete their homework.

But did you know that your child’s oral health can significantly impact their success in the classroom? Let’s take a moment to explore the following statistics.

How Oral Health Can Impact Your Child’s Academic Performance

Research clearly shows a link between poor oral health and poor academic performance in children.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children, and, when left untreated, can cause pain, infection, and problems with eating, speaking, and learning.

In fact, dental-related illnesses are responsible for approximately 51 million lost school hours per year in the United States. According to one study, children who had poor oral health were almost three times as likely to be absent from school due to dental pain compared to children who had good oral health. In addition, students suffering from toothaches were almost four times more likely to have low-grade point averages.

Dental issues can also affect growth and development. When children endure dental pain, their ability to chew and obtain proper nutrition suffers, which can lead to potential nutritional deficiencies. This impacts their attention span, memory, and ability to concentrate on academics.

Healthy teeth can also boost children’s confidence by improving their appearance, enabling clear communication, enhancing self-esteem, and fostering positive social interactions, which can lead to greater willingness to engage in conversations, make friends, and participate in group activities at school without self-consciousness.

How Oral Dysfunction Can Impact Your Child’s Academic Performance

In addition to problems with teeth, problems with the soft tissues in your child’s mouth can also lead to poor quality of life. For example, if your child has a tongue tie, which can inhibit their ability to move their tongue in order to process food adequately or form certain sounds properly, their nutrition and / or language skills can suffer.

Tongue ties can also affect your child’s airway development, potentially leading to poor sleep, which in turn leaves them fatigued throughout the school day. If your child is unable to breathe through their nose, and always has their mouth resting in an open position, this can lead to problems with chronic allergies, tonsillitis, and poor air exchange.

For all of these reasons, it is important to establish a dental home with a knowledgeable pediatric dentist at an early age (by 1 year old at the latest) so they can be properly examined for oral dysfunction. When caught early, the problems are much easier to correct!

Read also: Tongue Tie in Infants and Young Children: Signs to Look Out For

Establish Good Oral Care for School Success

As a parent, one of the best things you can do to set your kid up for success in school is to make sure their smile is happy and healthy! Instilling excellent oral hygiene habits early on can significantly benefit their learning, focus, and attendance in the classroom. Below we’ve outlined how to prioritize oral care at home.

  • Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t forget to floss every day!
  • Schedule pediatric dental check-ups every 6 months.
  • If your child plays contact sports, make sure they wear a protective mouthguard during play.
  • Limit sugary snacks and beverages. Instead, offer fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and cheese.

Instilling these oral care habits takes daily effort but pays off in your child’s overall health. For more details on each of the above steps, you can refer to our previously published blog post.

Healthy Smiles Lead to Healthy Learning

Our dental health impacts far more than just our teeth. As a pediatric dental specialist and a parent herself, Dr. Gouri at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry knows well how pivotal oral health is for a child’s confidence, growth, and classroom success.

At Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gouri and her compassionate team provide comprehensive dental care to safeguard your child’s oral health and promote their overall wellbeing.

From cleanings and preventive sealants to treatments for dental issues, we utilize the latest methods and technology to deliver the gentle care children need. Our welcoming, kid-friendly office helps even anxious patients feel right at home.

Contact our Lafayette office today to learn more about our pediatric dental services or book your child’s next exam. We’re always happy to discuss any concerns and ensure your child’s oral health is on track. Let us partner with you to enable your child to reach their full potential in the classroom and beyond!