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Dental Decay Impacts School Success

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

  • Children in the U.S. miss 51 million hours of school each year due to dental related illnesses. School absences, as early as first grade, are associated with higher drop-out rates.

  • The effect of dental pain on distraction and school performance is significant. Children with severe decay may be unable to concentrate and learn to their full potential.

  • Children with dental problems may have anxiety, fatigue, irritability, depression, and may be withdrawn from normal activities.

  • Chewing problems from dental decay can limit food choices, causing inadequate nutrition, which can also affect school performance.

  • Self-esteem issues from decayed or missing teeth can affect children’s ability to socialize and participate in school activities.

  • A large study of school aged children showed children who had dental problems were four times more likely to have a low GPA (under the median of 2.8) than children without dental problems. Students with dental problems were six times more likely to miss school and their parents were four times more likely to miss work because of sick children. The study also found severe decay to be associated with feelings of embarrassment, withdrawal and anxiety, absence from school, and inability to concentrate in school.

Source: McMillen Center for Health Education

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