Guest Columnist - Jeremy Davidson, DDS
Want to improve your child's GPA?
Brush Two Minutes, Two Times each Day!
February is Children's Dental Health Month
The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives is working with the Ad Council to focus on improving children's dental health. 2min2x is their new campaign; brushing for 2 minutes 2 times each day will give children their best chance of maintaining healthy teeth and avoiding painful dental problems which interfere with their ability to learn.
Did you know that tooth brushing can impact a child's grades, school attendance and overall health? In fact, in the U.S. oral disease causes students to miss 51 million school hours and their parents to lose 25 million work hours annually.1 Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in children—five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.2 Yet with good oral hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing, cavities are largely preventable. However, according to a survey released by the Ad Council, less than half of U.S. parents report that their child brush their teeth twice a day or more and 60 percent of parents with children ages 12 or younger do not regularly help their child brush their teeth or check to see if they have done a good job.3
Dental Problems Impact Grades
Recent research shows that children with poor oral health are more likely to have below average grades than those who have good oral hygiene. According to a new study published in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers at Ostrow School of Dentistry found students who experience untreated tooth decay and tooth pain are "four times more likely to have a lower grade-point average than their classmates– below the median GPA of 2.8."4 In fact, untreated oral infections and diseases interfere with a child's ability to eat, sleep and speak, making it difficult to play and learn.
Dental Problems Lower Attendance
Dental issues have also been linked to poorer school attendance. The Ostrow researchers found that on average elementary students missed 2.1 days of school and high school students missed 2.3 days due to dental problems. Missing school due to tooth pain means students are missing out on instructional opportunities and experiences that are difficult to make up and can contribute to lower grades.
Dental Problems Affect Parents' Jobs
Do you think your job can't be affected by your child's poor oral hygiene and dental health? Wrong! The study also found that "parents missed an average of 2.5 days of work per year" whether for at-home care or driving to a dental appointment because of tooth pain. Considering the many reasons students and parents may find it necessary to take leave days or miss school, it is important to maintain good oral health to avoid any additional lost time and wages.
What role does Orthodontics play in Oral Health?
Straight teeth make for a beautiful smile and they are also easier to keep clean. Crowded and improperly aligned teeth are more difficult to brush and floss. This can lead to a higher risk for gum disease, tooth decay and eventually to tooth loss. Orthodontics is often necessary to help improve the stability, function and health of an individual's teeth.
The Good News!
There Are Some Simple Things You Can Do to Keep Your Children's Teeth from Interfering with Their Education
- 1) Brush your child's teeth yourself until age 6 and supervise brushing until age 8. Children may not have the dexterity to do it on their own effectively.
- 2) Make sure your child brushes twice a day for at least two minutes--top, bottom and sides--not just the front teeth.
- 3) Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Remember to replace your child's toothbrush every 3-4 months and even sooner if the bristles are worn-out or if your children have been sick.
- 4) Be sure to clean between their teeth once a day with floss to remove plaque and food where a toothbrush can't reach. Show them the proper way to floss their teeth.
- 5) Plaque is a sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating that can lead to cavities if not removed. To help prevent plaque buildup, use a fluoride mouthwash specifically designed for children twice a day and be sure to provide healthy snacks like apples. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks.
- 6) Visit the dentist twice a year beginning at age one. Dentists can detect small problems before they become big ones which lead to tooth pain and serious dental problems.
- 7) The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children receive an exam by an orthodontic specialist by age 7. This evaluation will help to diagnose any problems with their bite. The goal is for every child to have a healthy and beautiful smile for a lifetime.
Dr. Jeremy Davidson
About the Author Dr. Jeremy Davidson, of Davidson Orthodontics in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is a member of the Tidewater Orthodontic Society (TOS) and has served as the president of the TOS for the past two years. He is also a member of the Southern Association of Orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists.
Dr. Davidson completed his undergraduate degree in Business at the University of San Diego in 1992.He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Washington in 1999 where he earned the American Academy of Oral Medicine award. Dr. Davidson then chose to serve our country and entered the United States Navy Dental Corps. Following a one-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency in San Diego, Dr. Davidson served four years as a general dentist at Naval Station Naples, Italy. Selected as the fellow to the Chief of the Dental Corps, he and his family moved to Bethesda, Maryland where he worked for the Admiral for a year at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Later, upon graduation from orthodontic residency training in San Antonio, Texas in 2008, Davidson served as the Orthodontic Department Head at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. During his 13-year career as a Navy dentist, he achieved the rank of commander and was awarded three Navy Commendation medals. Dr. Davidson and his wife, Mary-Jeanne, have three children and reside in Virginia Beach where he owns his orthodontic practice, Davidson Orthodontics in Virginia Beach.
1 "Every Child Deserves A Happy Smile." Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. 2012. Web. 8 January 2013.
2 "Oral Health and Children." American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics.2012. Web. 7 January 2013.
3 "Coalition of More Than 35 Leading Dental Organizations Joins Ad Council to Launch First Campaign on Children's Oral Health." August 2012. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Web. 8 January 2013.
4 "Poor Oral Health linked to Bad Grades." UPI.com. United Press International, Inc. 15 August 2012. Web. 8 January 2013.