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Toothaches Cause Bad Grades


Here's another reason to skip the processed fruit snacks and put an apple into your kid's lunchbox: toothaches can negatively impact a child’s success in school. The state of a child’s oral health has been linked to academic performance and school attendance records, the American Journal of Public Health reports.

Plus: A Parent’s Guide to Dental Care

Researchers from the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC studied close to 1,500 elementary and high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District, who came from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes. The study found that a child is 4 times more likely to have a grade point average below a 2.8, the median GPA, if they have had tooth pain recently. Before this study, Ostrow studies found that 73 percent of the disadvantaged children in Los Angeles have the cavity causing disease, dental caries.

Plus: Caring for Your Child’s Teeth

"On average, elementary children missed a total of 6 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… That shows oral 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," says Roseann Mulligan, the chair of Ostrow’s Division of Dental Public Health and Pediatric Dentistry.

Plus: Healthy Habits that Begin at Home

The link between poor oral health and academic success is attributed to the children’s access to dental care. Eleven percent of students who have limited access to dental care miss school because of oral health issues; while only 4 percent of students who have sufficient access to dental care miss school for the same reason.

Mulligan suggests integrating oral health programs into already existing school programs to help fix this problem for disadvantaged children.

Has your child ever missed school because of a toothache? Leave a comment.