Next time you think of spoiling your grandkids with sweet treats, you might want to reconsider. Grandparents naturally want the best for their grandkids, and academic success plays an important role in paving the path for future career success. So what does this have to do with sweets? Well a study has found that children with good oral health and proper dental care perform better at school and candy is notoriously bad for dental health.
The study was conducted by the Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California and published in The American Journal of Public Health. The researchers of the study examined the oral health of 1,500 disadvantaged children in the Los Angeles area.They then looked at the academic performance of the children and they found that the kids who had poor oral health or improper dental care and who had reported recent tooth pain, were four times more likely than children with good oral health, to have a low GPA. In fact, the kids with toothaches from poor oral health care and brushing habits were four times more likely to have poor grades than the kids with proper dental care.
The scholastic related benefits of brushing and maintaining healthy teeth did not stop there. The children with inadequate dental care also missed more days of school and had parents that had to miss more days of work in order to take care of them. According to study author, Dr. Roseann Mulligan “… oral health problems are a very significant factor in school absences.” On average, middle school children with poor oral health miss 2.1 days of class per year and high school students miss 2.6 days. It’s not just the current state of the children’s dental health that affects school performance and attendance either. According to the study, accessibility of dental care was another factor and limited access to dental care in and of itself, was enough to increase the likelihood of missed school days.
“Dental disease always results in pain – and anyone in pain is less likely to perform well,” states Mulligan. We should “encourage kids to take care of their teeth with good nutrition, and schedule regular dental checkups for them.” In addition, parents should brush their children’s teeth themselves until they reach the age of 6 because children under 6 simply don’t have the dexterity to perform a thorough brushing of their own teeth. Other dentist recommended techniques for maintaining the oral health of children include flossing regularly and using a kid’s mouthwash twice daily. Encouraging children to eat healthy snacks such as carrots and apples is also important, and it encourages healthy teeth and gums in two ways. First off, it encourages the production of saliva, which is a plaque deterrent, and second off, it provides essential nutrients which are needed for healthy teeth and gums.
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According to Mulligan “Our data indicates that for disadvantaged children there is an impact on students’ academic performance due to dental problems. We recommend that oral health programs must be more integrated into other health, educational and social programs, especially those that are school-based. Furthermore, widespread population studies are needed to demonstrate the enormous personal, societal and financial burdens that this epidemic of oral disease is causing on a national level.”
So if you really want the best for your grandkids forget ‘treating’ them with dental damaging candy and give them a toothbrush and pack of sugar-free gum instead. They may not thank you now, but you can take pride in the fact that you are playing a supportive role in their future success!