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July 8, 2021

Dental Diseases and Academic Development

It may only be early summer, but the 2021-22 school year will be upon us before you know it. And with it will come your cares and concerns for your child’s academic well-being and performance.

But did you know that your child’s oral health could be a key factor in their learning abilities?

Yes, that sounds a bit odd, but trust us, the healthier your child’s teeth and gums are, the better he or she will do in school.

Doubt it?

Well let’s take a closer look.

Children are prone to any number of dental diseases and conditions. And should those issues become painful enough, they will not only distract your child when he or she is in class, it could even lead to them missing class time – either due to pain or going to the dentist in an emergency situation.

When it comes to school, every day that a child misses in the classroom could lead to detriment in their academic growth. In fact, studies show that missing just two days a month of school creates an academic hole from which it is tough to dig out of. Children that are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade. Meanwhile, older students that are chronically absent are much more likely to fail – even more so than students who struggle with grades or test scores.

So, how does dental health connect with all of this? As we stated earlier, there are a number of common dental complaints that could lead to your child missing class time – or even keep them consistently distracted, which is almost as bad as completely missing class.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those issues:

CAVITIES

The most common dental disease that affects children is cavities. Known as dental caries in the dental world, cavities occur when the tooth enamel that surrounds and protects the tooth breaks down. This process leads to tooth decay and, eventually, cavities. Tooth decay occurs when sticky plaque, which is loaded with bacteria, accumulates on the surface of the teeth. The acid in the plaque actually eats away at tooth enamel, eventually wearing away at the tooth itself. Cavities can be extremely painful if left untreated and can certainly drive a child to distraction or result in emergency dentist visits – and these visits, no matter how hard a dentist works to be positive, are not great experiences for your child. Cavities are the most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. In fact, tooth decay is four times more common than asthma among adolescents aged 14 to 17 years. But the good news is that vigilant and consistent tooth care can ensure a cavity-free existence for most children. So, it is imperative that you ensure that your child maintains consistent, strong oral healthcare habits.

SENSITIVE TEETH

There are a number of factors that can make your child’s teeth sensitive. Whether it is decay, trauma (such as a cracked tooth), teeth grinding (bruxism), or even the emergence of new teeth in their gums, all of these can provide a significant distraction and keep your child’s mind off learning. All of these issues can be fixed, but it is important that you encourage your child to tell you if he or she has ANY type of oral discomfort. That way you can have the issue fixed before it becomes a consistent problem. Many of these issues can also be prevented by consistent oral healthcare and by a vigilant dentist. That means it is important that your child see his or her dentist at least twice yearly.

GINGIVITIS & GUM DISEASE

While you may associate gingivitis and gum disease with aging, it can and does occur fairly often in children. Gingivitis leads to gum disease, so it is important to nip its appearance in the bud. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums, and slight bleeding when your child brushes or flosses. Its presence and the approach of gum disease is far more prevalent in children that have poor oral health habits – yet another reason to make sure your kids display strong, healthy habits. If you brush and floss daily, the odds of developing these problems are decreased significantly. However, the growth of new teeth can sometimes overcrowd and make properly cleaning teeth that much harder – so be sure to talk with your dentist about any crooked or crowded areas in your child’s mouth that might be aided by a visit to the orthodontist.

THUMB SUCKING

We all know that is normal for infants and toddlers, even small children to suck their thumbs or use a pacifier – they usually do this to soothe anxiety. However, if your child sucks his or her thumb or uses a pacifier past the toddler period, there is a real oral health risk involved. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause issues with the way a child’s teeth develop, due to a number of factors. So, if your child is sucking a thumb or using a pacifier past the toddler period, it is important to curb the habit as soon as possible.

The good news about all of these issues is that by choosing and regularly visiting a dentist, your child will have a great opportunity to avoid poor oral health. Seeing a dentist twice-yearly will not only help protect and clean their teeth, but also allow a professional to head off any potential problems. And the opportunity to do that before school starts will be finished sooner than you think. So, if you want to assure that your child has one less thing to worry about and can fully concentrate in the classroom, why not go ahead and schedule a dentist trip – or select a dentist for your child now?

If you have any questions about better dental health for your children or are in need of a dentist here in north Georgia, please do not hesitate to contact us at Kids Dentistry. Our Gainesville office and new Flowery Branch location are always available to you, so call us now at 678-450-7011 or visit our website at https://www.kidsdentistryga.com.