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Is there a connection between oral health and school performance?

As a parent, you want the best for your children, and that includes doing their best in school. You can support them by taking an interest in their activities, being enthusiastic about attendance, and helping them with homework. There may also be one more way you can help your children succeed at school. Surprisingly, research suggests that children with better oral health are likely to do better in school.

What the Research Says

One study in North Carolina looked at risk factors for poor school performance among school-aged children. As expected, the study found poor school performance linked to low socioeconomic status, low levels of parental education, and poor overall health. However, it also found a strong link between poor oral health and poor school performance, with children classified as having poor oral health 40 percent more likely struggle in school.

These findings are generalizable to the rest of the country. For example, attendance is an important factor in academic achievement, but dental conditions are responsible for a loss 51 million school hours among schoolchildren each year. Dental pain and infection are linked to poorer performance.

School-Based Programs to Promote Oral Health

In light of the apparent benefits of good oral health for school performance, some schools are taking steps to promote better oral care and health. In Maine, for instance, schools in need can apply for grants through School Oral Health Program (SOHP). The SOHP consists of four components:

  1. Oral health education for all children to support healthy behaviors
  2. A weekly fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen teeth
  3. Dental screenings to identify children who may need dental care
  4. Dental sealants, or plastic coatings, on back teeth to guard against decay

The State of Maine also supports an “Annual Sugar Out Day” to raise awareness of the effects of sugar on dental health and to help students choose low-sugar alternatives.

Oral Health Habits to Adopt

You can help your child improve oral health and do better in school by encouraging good oral hygiene. This includes brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and reminding your child to drink water after eating. Also, regular trips to our Cookeville office can help prevent serious tooth problems.

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"I had multiple bad experiences as a child with the dentist. As a result, I have feared going to the dentist office for years. Dr. Kevin and Sandy are so gentle and caring that I still bring my children to them and we live almost two hours away!" ~ Tasha W.

patient testimonials

"Since age 7, I have been extremely fearful of going to the dentist. It was this age that I was told by a previous dentist that I would eventually have to have a root canal and my front tooth capped due to a bicycling accident. This gave me a scary image and sounded painful. When Dr. Sandy told me a root canal was needed, although it was 18 years later, it still sounded scary and painful. Then I was told about sedation. The entire day of the appointment I don’t recall much. When I woke up, the "scary" part was already over and I felt refreshed with zero pain or discomfort. I was completely satisfied with my smile and the results! As for the staff, each person I was in contact with was excellent in accommodating each need that I had and made me feel like I was a part of their family. I would 100% recommend Hayes Family Dentistry and sedation to anyone. The entire experience was, in one word, amazing!" ~ Kellie A.

patient testimonials

"No pain was felt. New found respect for dentistry. Recovery was a lot easier. Would not see any other dentist. Would recommend Hayes Family Dentistry to anyone and everyone. Very, very pleased with my experience and even brought my wife here. All I can say is WOW!" ~ Jason R.

patient testimonials

"I have been extremely afraid to go to the dentist. I had a bad experience about three years ago where my jaw got locked open during a procedure. For about an hour they had to do warm moist compresses and massage my temporal joint to get my jaw unlocked. I was extremely sore for about three and a half weeks. This created a fear of going back to the dentist. My experience with sedation: when I came in that morning I was not anxious about the appointment because I took a pill that morning that helped calm me. I was greeted, they got me comfortable, and I watched a pleasant video about ocean life. I don’t remember anything about that appointment. My next memory was of waking up refreshed and ready to go the next day. I didn’t have any soreness and didn’t have to worry about what I ate because of my joints being sore. It was the most pleasant experience I have ever had at a dental office. I will definitely have sedation again for any kind of future treatment." ~ Sara H.

patient testimonials

"Are you afraid to smile because you’re ashamed of your smile? Hayes Family Dentistry can help. Are you saying, “But I’m more afraid of going to a dentist than people seeing my smile?” Hayes Family Dentistry can really help; they helped me. Being afraid of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of—it’s called dental phobia and you’re not alone. A lot of people suffer from it. But now thanks to sedation dentistry, you don’t have to suffer anymore." ~ Tony "Gator" Harrison
(Formerly with Country Giant)

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We love to give back to the community in which we live and work. We provide educational presentations to local preschools, organizational groups like the boy scouts and church programs. Especially rewarding is our involvement with “Teen Challenge” and “Smiles from the Heart.” We are passionate about helping people who may be less fortunate or find themselves in difficult situations.

Hayes Family Dentistry, PC