Parenting is, without a doubt, the most significant challenge and privilege you will ever have. It makes our hearts soar, consumes us with worry, and never ends!

While we have control over some aspects of parenthood, such as parenting techniques, certain influencing factors, like social and economic pressures, create additional strain.

Oral health has come under the spotlight recently due to the so-called oral health pandemic, as the prevalence of poor oral health and oral diseases has increased dramatically, which is particularly concerning for children.

Studies undertaken in recent decades have revealed that poor oral health in children can have a detrimental effect on their personal development and performance in school. The impact of which can resonate throughout their lives.

The latest figures reveal the percentage of children with tooth decay between the ages of 2 and 11 are:

  • 23% of 2 – 5-year-olds
  • 52% of 6 – 8-year-olds
  • 17% of 6 – 11-year-olds

Tooth decay in this report includes severe decay that has led to cavities and fillings and untreated tooth decay. The figures are alarming, particularly for the 6 – 8-year-old group.

How Does Poor Oral Health Impact My Child?

There are many side effects to poor oral health beyond the intense pain of toothache.

Side effects of poor oral health include:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating as a result of oral pain
  • Low self-esteem as a result of an unhealthy smile
  • Difficulties in communication, either due to pain or being self-conscious about the visible condition of their teeth.
  • Reduced school attendance through unhappiness in the school environment.

Reduced school attendance also occurs due to remedial dental appointments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded that 34 million school hours are lost each year because of unplanned (emergency) dental care.

The average private school has about 166 students, while public schools average 528. According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, 53.9 million K–12 students enrolled in public and private schools in fall 2019.

The National Library of Medicine states that Children with poor oral health status were nearly three times more likely to miss school as a result of dental pain.

Contributing Factors and Current Remedial Practices

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status, are significant contributors to oral diseases in children.

Other factors, such as race and predisposing health factors, are also seen as contributory.

The Institute records an expansion of coverage of dental insurance for low-income families for both preventative and remedial action. However, not all cutting-edge technology is suitable.

Dental practices have advanced dramatically in recent years. Contemporary statistics record that 92.45% of dental implants in the United States are titanium, which is considered superior to ceramics. Nevertheless, dental implants are unsuitable for children until their teeth and jaws have stopped growing. And such drastic measures should not be necessary.

The other main causal agents for such poor oral health are diet and proper brushing and flossing. According to CDC Healthy Schools, Cavities (tooth decay) are the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States.

The Final Word

There is a national and indeed global issue with oral health. The World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Oral Health 2022 records that oral diseases are an increasing global burden

That is why all children must learn to clean their teeth correctly as early as possible. For children already suffering from cavities or dental caries, access to dental care services is critical.

A proactive parenting approach to oral health care is essential, encouraging oral hygiene in children at home and ensuring regular checkups as a preventative method.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a variety of support, including low-cost dental care, community health centers, and dental schools.