The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health views oral health to be essential but an often overlooked a component of wellness that directly affects students ability to thrive in the classroom.
By third grade, tooth decay affects 71% of students in California (Dental Health Foundation)
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among American children. The pain from a tooth decay compromises a child’s ability to eat, sleep, play, and learn; and tooth decay can also negatively affects self-esteem and social development. This, in turn, leads to poor academic performance, and if this problem continues into adulthood, it can result in missed work days and employment issues. Although tooth decay is entirely preventable, access to preventive disease care is problematic for low-income families. (Pew Center on the States, 2012)
According to California Pan-Ethnic Health Network:
- Poor oral health can contribute to and worsen serious chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke
- Causes of poor oral health include an inability to access dental providers, barriers due to limited English proficiency, and the cost of dental insurance
- Other contributing factors include poverty and food security. As one researcher said, “The disparity in oral health between poor and affluent children in California is the worst in the nation.”
View infographic about dental disease and California’s kids.