The major indicator for this measure of success is the percent of children without untreated tooth decay.
Maintaining good oral health is crucial to a child’s overall well-being as well as their ability to succeed in school. Children with untreated dental problems are more likely to have trouble performing everyday activities necessary to their overall health, including difficulties with sleeping, chewing, and eating. Dental health problems are associated with an increased risk of shyness, unfriendliness, feelings of unworthiness, and overall unhappiness among young children and adolescents.
Dental problems and lack of access to dental care are also connected to lower school performance, including higher rates of school absenteeism, difficulties completing required homework, difficulties paying attention at school, and lower grade point average. Children in families with low-incomes may have an increased risk of developing dental issues.
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- Guarnizo-Herreno and Wehby_2012_Children’s Dental Health School Performance: Analysis of 41,988 children between the ages of 6 and 17 as part of the 2007 National Survey of Child’s Health, a nationally representative sample of children in the United States and their health characteristics. Looked at effects of children’s dental problems on their school performance and psychological well-being. Found that having dental problems was a significant predictor of having more problems at school, having lower school attendance, and struggling to complete required homework. Also found that dental problems were associated with increased risk of shyness, unfriendliness, feelings of unworthiness, and overall unhappiness.
- Mulligan et al_2012_Impact of Oral Health on Academic Performance: Study of 1,495 elementary and high school-aged children with disadvantaged backgrounds in the Los Angeles public school system. Measured effects of having poor oral health, as determined by whether or not the child had toothaches, access to dental care when needed, urgent dental needs, cavitated or non-cavitated caries, and school absence due to dental problems. Found that students who reported having toothaches were four times more likely to have a low grade point average (GPA) than those who did not have toothaches. Also, students who needed dental care but were unable to access it were more likely to miss school than those who did have access.
- Luciana de Andrade Lima_2018_Impact of Untreated Dental Caries: Cross-sectional analysis of 647 Brazilian children ages 6 to 10 in 2016. Measures the impact of having untreated dental caries on various quality of life measures. Found that having untreated dental caries was a significant predictor of both health quality of life outcomes (including having oral pain and difficulty chewing, eating and sleeping) and school performance outcomes (lower school attendance and difficulty completing homework and paying attention in school). Children with untreated dental caries were also more likely to come from families with low-incomes.