New studies are showing that poor oral health, tooth decay, and tooth pain are putting some children at risk for falling behind in school. It is widely believed that many children, regardless of socioeconomic conditions, are not receiving routine dental care on a regular basis from a dentist or hygienist. It seems like good dental care takes a back seat at times in many families lives for various reasons.
The study recently conducted and published in the American Journal of Public Health examined close to 1,500 socioeconomically disadvantaged elementary and high school students in the Los Angeles area. They then matched their oral health to their academic achievement and attendance records. In previous studies, researchers found that about 75% of disadvantaged children in Los Angeles county area had some level of tooth decay.
In this study, children who reported having tooth pain were 4x more likely to have a low grade point average when compared to children without oral pain. The results also found that the tooth pain also resulted in a higher amount of absences, as well as more missed work for parents. This leads to lost classroom time as well as lost pay for parents and the family.
What can Parents Do to Avoid this?
Good oral hygiene must begin as soon as the child’s first teeth erupt into the mouth. Many of these tips take just a little time and patience to facilitate good oral hygiene. The following are some tips for parents to maintain their children’s teeth:
-Proper brushing. Many parents leave the tooth brushing up to their kids when they are as little as 2 years old. Parents and caregivers need to brush their child’s teeth, and then monitor that their children are brushing properly using a fluoride (as soon as they are old enough to spit and not swallow) toothpaste. Toothbrushing can remove up to 60% of the plaque, bacteria, and food debris from mouth.
-Flossing. Yes, Flossing. Children can floss and in fact when they get in the habit as a child they have that habit for life. There are children’s flossers which make it easier for them to perform themselves but again parents need to instruct, demonstrate, and monitor the job they are doing.
-Use a disclosing solution. A disclosing solution is a great tool to show what areas a child might be missing. It is effective in adults as well. It simply is a dye that colors the plaque remaining in your mouth. After you brush, you rinse with the disclosing solution to see what you have missed, then remove the remaining plaque and the color from your teeth. You are able to visually inspect how effective your hygiene techniques. It is a great learning tool, and it is highly effective.
-Rinse with an anti-cavity rinse. Children need fluoride more so than adults due to the developing teeth. A good example of this is ACT fluoride rinse. It comes in many flavors and is easy to use. There are also prescription fluoride rinses that are swallowed after rinsing to strengthen developing teeth. These rinses are only available through your dentist or pediatrician. DO NOT swallow over the counter fluoride rinses or toothpaste, it is harmful to both adults and children in this improper concentration.
-Avoiding or moderating sugars. Let’s face it children love their sweets from fruit roll ups to gummy bears to fruit juice. To avoid tooth decay we must modify that behavior and if they are to have these items have them brush and rinse soon after so the sugars do not have time to linger in their mouths.
Tooth Decay and Tooth Pain can be avoided or at the very least limited with proper dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Remember it is far cheaper to see your dentist regularly for routine dental examinations and professional cleanings than to show up in pain.