School is back in session. It’s the perfect time for a fresh start with a healthy, bright smile. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay, also known as cavities, is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States and the leading cause of missed school among children.
Left untreated, cavities can not only have a significant impact on your child’s overall health, but their grades and learning as well, according to Jeffrey Johnson, D.M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry.
Unaddressed oral health problems can have long-term effects on children outside of just health and wellbeing. If you’re sitting in a classroom and you can’t concentrate on what you’re doing, you can’t participate because you don’t feel well or you felt so bad you couldn’t be there, data shows you will fall behind and have to play catch up on your studies.
When kids are hurting, their quality of life is lower. When kids are hurting and they can’t eat, they can even become malnourished or undernourished. Not only can it lead to lower participation in school, but it can also hold them back in social settings like play at recess, sports teams or church youth groups. These social activities are important for childhood development in terms of building self esteem and establishing relationships.
Research shows us that parents and caregivers that don’t have good oral health can spread that bacteria to their kids. Just like we protect ourselves from spreading germs through handwashing, the best way to protect ourselves and others from spreading oral bacteria is through good oral hygiene, overall healthy habits and limiting the sharing of items that go in our mouths.