As summer draws to a close and you’re getting ready to send your child off to college again, now is a great time to schedule a dental checkup and teeth cleaning, or any dental treatments you may have been putting off.

Healthy teeth offer more than a great smile. According to information from the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), good dental health may contribute to better performance in the classroom, an effect that can linger beyond your child’s K-12 days.

Good dental health can lead to better performance in school

Oral Health and Education

America is not getting great marks in the subject of kids’ dental health. More than 15 million American children suffer from untreated tooth decay, according to an NCOHF fact sheet, making dental care the most widespread, unmet health need of U.S. kids.

The adverse effects of untreated dental problems eventually spread beyond oral health. The NCOHF estimates that more than 51 million school hours are lost to dental diseases every year, which can contribute to learning disparities.

Young adults can actually be even more prone to dental disease than younger children. That’s because they move out from under the supervision of their parents, and may neglect oral hygiene while experimenting with some lifestyle choices that can damage their oral health, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Late-night caffeine consumption in the form of cokes, sugary coffees, and energy drinks can both stain teeth and increase the risk of cavities.

Oral Health and General Health

In its State of Little Teeth report, the AAPD called pediatric tooth decay an “epidemic.” The AAPD pointed out that untreated tooth decay in children is accompanied by health risks that include:

  • Damage to permanent teeth
  • Changes to teeth position and bite structure
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Poor sleep
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Heart disease

According to the AAPD, pediatric oral health problems can also impair intellectual development and social development. Children with dental issues often suffer from poor speech articulation, diminished performance in school, reluctance to engage with others, or low self-esteem, problems that don’t go away just because a child leaves their home town.

Your Dentist: A Partner in Health

The good news is that cavities and periodontal disease, the two most common oral health problems, are almost entirely preventable. A good dental hygiene routine along with a balanced diet and regular dental visits can help you and your child maintain healthy smiles for life.

Helping ensure they follow good oral hygiene habits while at home can set them up for success at school and in their careers. After all, a healthy attractive smile can contribute to future job success.

Another great preventive measure is a dental sealant treatment. Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, teeth which can be difficult to clean and are prone to decay. Research shows that sealants can reduce the risk of tooth decay by up to 80 percent in the molars.

A late-summer dental exam allows your dentist to assess your child’s oral health, provide a thorough teeth cleaning, and recommend any necessary treatment prior to the start of school. The dentists at Smile Columbia Dentistry understand the connection between your oral health and your overall well-being.

If you or your child is due for a dental checkup, or if you’re considering cosmetic dentistry to restore the appearance of your smile, please call us at (803) 791-9090 to schedule your appointment at our comfortable Columbia, SC, office.