Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Connection Between Oral Health and School Performance

connection between health and school

Connection Between Oral Health and School Performance

According to a new study done by the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, poor oral health can have an impact on the academic performance of disadvantaged children. The study examined nearly 1,500 socioeconomically disadvantaged elementary and high school children to determine if their performance in school was affected by their oral health.

The findings were staggeringly high that children with poor oral health have a susceptibility to poor school performance. For example, children who reported having tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade point average compared to children who did not complain of oral pain. If that wasn’t a good enough indicator a correlation between lower grades, dental problems and the amount of absences a child had from school due to those dental problems was also established. Here are the findings:

On average, elementary children missed a total of six days per year, and high school children missed 2.6 days. For elementary students, 2.1 days of missed school were due to dental problems, and high school students missed 2.3 days due to dental issues. This shows dental health problems are a very significant factor in school absences. Also, parents missed an average of 2.5 days of work per year to care for children with dental problems, indicating that the problem perpetuates beyond the child’s education alone.

One of the factors that would indicate whether a child would miss school was their accessibility of dental care. 11 percent of the children in the study who had limited access missed school, as opposed to only four percent of children who had better access to things like dental insurance and transportation.

The connection between academic success and dental health may not be the entire reason a disadvantaged child has poorer grades and misses more school than the average child but these numbers indicate some correlation. The burdens of health care trickle down into other aspects of the lives of many, especially those with lesser means, indicating the need for a greater dependence on the health care system or the schools to help contribute to this all-to-common occurrence.


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