A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health makes the correlation between oral health and performance in school. This Tuesday, federal health officials said that a solution could be bringing dental professionals to the schools to put in dental sealants on the molars of schoolkids. The initiative sounds like an additional cost to schools that are usually on a tight budget as it is. But doing this could actually help schools save money. About 50 dollars for each student is how much the schools could save if they introduced dental sealants to their students.
Cavities Affect Children’s Performance in School
It might not be the job of the school to take care of the oral health of their students as well. After all, cavities are not a problem that’s in the area of education. But cavities that are untreated are a factor for children doing poorly in school.
The study from the American Journal of Public Health says that children with “very good” or “excellent” oral health to better in school. Students with “good”, “fair” or “poor” oral health are three times more likely to have to miss days of school on account of dental pain. Also, children that had to stay at home because of toothaches were two times more likely to get grades like C, D or F in school.
Dr. Tom Frieden is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He called cavities “one of the most common chronic conditions among kids in this country.” Cavities affect all children, regardless of income level.
Dental Sealants Could Help Solve the Problem of Cavities
The most vulnerable to cavities are the molars. These are the teeth that do the most part of the chewing. Because of the many ridges, they are difficult to reach and to clean properly. Almost 90 percent of all cavities are on molars.
Dental sealants can work to reduce the risk of getting cavities by 81 percent over a period of two years. Also, they keep fighting cavities for a period of up to nine years after getting them. Dental sealants are practically a sort of plastic coating that cover the top of the molars. This creates a barrier between the molar and the harmful bacteria that leads to tooth decay.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sees dental sealants as a sort of vaccine for teeth.
“It’s a way of preventing cavities.”
Said Dr. Tom Frieden.
But most children of school age in the United States don’t get dental sealants. That was the conclusion of the CDC Vital Signs report that was released this Tuesday.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey offers more data on the issue. According to them, 48% of higher-income children get their teeth sealed. And just 38% of low-income children.
A widespread use of dental sealants could mean fewer cavities. That would also mean fewer fillings and fewer trips to the dentist. But low-income kids are less likely to get sealants at the dentist’s office. That’s why the CDC Vital Signs report recommends that states should have programs for the children to be able to get them in school.
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