Connection Between Oral Health and School Performance


There are many things we want for our children. For instance, we want them to be kind and be able to form healthy relationships with others. Parents also want their children to stay out of trouble as much as possible. We want them to have good oral health and overall health. Also, we want them to do well in school. Any parent would say the same when it comes to their own children. However, parents wouldn’t normally link something like their child’s oral health and school performance to one another. Yet, research shows that the two actually have proven links to one another. In other words, if a child’s oral health isn’t in the best condition, their performance in school might not be the greatest. We’ll let you know exactly why this could be.

What are the Links Between Oral Health and School Performance?

You wouldn’t think that the links between your son or daughter’s success in school would have anything to do with their teeth. Well, it certainly can.

For instance, say your child is experiencing tooth pain. This might be due to a cavity, sensitive teeth, or what have you. Tooth pain, as everyone knows, can be very uncomfortable and quite excruciating. This pain can distract your child in class, making it difficult for them to focus during lessons or even affect their ability to get a good grade on an exam or in-class assignment.

Another way your child’s oral health can impact their school performance is if they’re feeling very shy about the state of their oral health. Crooked teeth, missing teeth, whatever the problem might be, your son or daughter might be feeling self-conscious with their appearance for this very reason. Your child might struggle to make and keep friends due to the social anxiety surrounding their smile. They may remain mute, failing to ask and answer questions in class and struggling to do verbal presentations in front of the class. This might be your kid’s way to hide their teeth. It’s also possible that your little one might get bullied as a result of their extreme shyness or due to the state of their teeth. Bullying alone can lead to a dip in your kiddo’s grades.

Poor Oral Health Also Means More Time Out of School

Even if pain and self-consciousness are not applicable factors in your children, their bad oral health and school performance can still have negative associations. Children with teeth alignment problems, frequent childhood cavities, and other oral health setbacks are more likely to miss school to attend dental appointments. We all know that it’s difficult to get appointments after school, let alone, on the weekends. As for other children, they may deal with significant pain or other complications with their oral health, having to stay home during school days. But parents are aware, though, that the least amount of time their kiddo is out of school, the better.

Over the course of time, you might notice your child’s grades slipping. Especially for quiet, shy children, it can be difficult for students to get caught back up with what they missed out on. They may be too timid to ask their classmates what they learned while they were gone. They might also be too shy to ask the teacher for the homework that was assigned for that day. In turn, your child might never be able to catch back into the loop of things. They may even completely miss out on an assignment they didn’t know about, getting a zero in the process.

The idea here is, if your child has good oral health overall, they won’t have to have to visit the dentist as often. As a result, they won’t have to take as much time out of school. If they can simply stick to their biannual dentist appointments every six months, then that would prevent them from having to leave school as often!

Signs Your Child’s Oral Health is Impacting Their School

The need for a school tutor, lack of motivation, or disinterest in school aren’t the only possible reasons a child might be struggling with their grades. If their oral health is the reason for their falling grades, the following might be applicable to your child:

  • They frequently ask to go home because of oral pain.
  • You get calls from the school saying your child didn’t eat lunch again (possibly due to oral pain).
  • They frequent only soft food items for school lunches like mashed potatoes, soup, and jello.
  • Your child covers their mouth when they talk to shield their teeth from being seen by others.
  • They’ve had to reschedule multiple tests or quizzes throughout the school year because of dental appointments.
  • Your kiddo goes to the nurse’s office often, complaining of pain in their teeth or gums.
  • Frequent headaches are not uncommon for your child (and they happen both inside and outside of school).
  • Your child is embarrassed to speak in front of the class because they whistle when they speak (which can be caused by crooked teeth or gaps within the teeth).
  • You receive a report from your child’s teacher that they rarely talk in class.
  • After school, your child tells you that they were getting bullied for the appearance of their teeth.
  • Your child says they feel lost in school due to missing school for frequent dental trips.

Normally, parents and teachers are able to piece two and two together. Often, children will be direct and open about their oral health impacting their ability to succeed in school. And if you want what’s best for your child and their grades, then you will be on the hunt for workable solutions.

Solutions to Kids’ Tooth Problems

The best way to resolve your child’s oral health issues and, in turn, hopefully, their school performance, is to address their oral health directly. Yes, it can cost money and time, but in the end, good oral health matters significantly. It not only matters while they’re in school but also all throughout adulthood.

Children who are self-conscious about the alignment of their teeth would benefit from braces. Kids struggling with recurring pain in their teeth might benefit from cavity treatment, a root canal, tooth sensitivity products, or pain relievers. Those with frequent cavities who keep needing to miss school for the dentist might require a plan to prevent them from getting so many cavities in the near future. Or, in the latter case, you can search around to find a dental office that is more flexible with appointment days and times as a temporary solution to this problem. If you’re ever at a loss when it comes to solutions, surely, your child’s dentist can help you out. That’s what they’re here for!

Once you address these oral health problems, your child will likely be able to focus more in school. Their confidence and social skills will improve. Completing homework and in-class assignments won’t be as much of a chore if they no longer have oral health distractions. As a whole, they’ll be happier and healthier.

It’s your job as the parent to be on the lookout for these types of issues and take the next step regarding getting them fixed. In addition, it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure their children are sticking to a regular oral health routine. This routine alone can make a big, positive impact on children’s oral health as a whole.