As adults we know there is a direct connection between oral health and general health, and many studies have been done on the impact of poor dental health on relationships, careers, and more. Recent studies also show a strong correlation between poor dental health in children and their academic performance, Cavities, tooth aches, and gum disease are not only health concerns for children, we now know that these conditions greatly affect their ability to learn and grow in an educational environment. A recent study, for instance, found that children with poorer oral health status were more likely to experience dental pain, miss school, and perform poorly in school.
Unfortunately, many children, especially in underserved communities, lack access to quality dental services, which can translate into missed school days, poor school performance, pain, and health issues later in life. Poor oral health can also lead to low self-esteem, which has also been shown to affect academic performance.
Oral health professionals from Guardian and Children’s Health Fund teamed up with Scholastic to create dental educational kits, and distributed them to 5,000 classrooms in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania initiative was part of the “Guardians of the Smile” national partnership. Supported by a $1 million grant to Children’s Health Fund by Guardian, “Guardians of the Smile” provides dental services and education to children, teaches students about the importance of proper oral hygiene, and aims to instill good habits from an early age.
The program has generated awareness and excitement by going directly to schools in communities across the country: launched at a public school in Harlem, celebrated the Texas State Fair at the Jubilee Park Community Center in Dallas with Rep. Eric Johnson of the Texas House of Representatives, and wrapped up 2018 at Cook Elementary School in Austin.*
Knowing that children learn more by example, the program also encourages parents to be guardians of their children’s smiles. If you and your child are struggling with your dental health routine, here are some handy tips:
- Let them choose a brush. If a toothbrush with a character or fun color gets their child excited about brushing, that’s a win. Just make sure the brush isn’t too hard or too large.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride. Children who are 5 or 6 years old only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, says the ADA. Young children tend to swallow the paste instead of spitting it out. Parents can use a larger smear for older brushers.
- Brush twice a day for two minutes. To keep it fun, play a two-minute song, set a timer, or tell a special brush-time story. (The two-minute rule applies to adults too, so they should check their own habits!)
- Floss once a day. A toothbrush can reach only about 40 percent of tooth surfaces. To clean the areas where teeth touch, parents need to need to floss their children’s teeth.
- Lend a hand. Children don’t have the motor skills to brush without parent help until age 7 or 8. Even then, parents should supervise to make sure they’re thorough.
- Schedule a dental exam. Children need a checkup every six months. Parents should set calendar reminders so they don’t forget.
Make the time to schedule an appointment for your child, and let us help you be a Guardian of your child’s smile! Call us today at 479-751-9899.