When you have children, sometimes you can predict their sick days and other times, it’s unpredictable.  One thing you can be certain of is that children inevitably get sick.  When kids are sick, it’s an inconvenience to both the parent and the child – children are absent from school and parents end up taking time off work.  

When you think of children being sick, asthma seems to stands out as the disease that is both popular and persistent in the early childhood years.  However, the National Institutes of Health makes a surprising revelation to what the more common early childhood disease is.  Dental caries.  Compared to asthma, caries takes the lead in school-aged children being sick.  This condition affects four in ten children with a 5 times more likelihood for a child to develop caries as opposed to asthma.

A range of complications, including the premature loss of teeth, arises from dental decay:


  • A child’s ability to perform at an optimal level is reduced.

  • Issues with speech.

  • Self-esteem challenges

  • A lack of focus in school activities.

  • Absence from school


When a child has dental challenges, it’s more than just a medical problem.  Dental issues link to children’s personal development – their self-confidence is affected, they become more shy, feel unhappy, are less likely to be friendly and, they struggle with a deep sense of feeling worthless.  

By the time children grow into adolescents, the dental problems they’ve been having become a part of their life.  With the challenges of being an adolescent, ages 15 to 17, dental health issues add on to the way a child’s self-esteem unfolds.  

Various studies have come to the find that 1.7 million days are missed yearly because children are having dental problems.  A regular attendance at school is necessary in order to have a child perform at their most optimized academic and social level.  It’s hard for a child to think about homework and making friends when they’re in constant dental pain.  If you were to compare a child who experiences toothaches versus a healthier counterpart, it would be no surprise to find that the latter would have a better chance at concentrating in school.  The ability to concentrate will yield better test results, a better outlook in social development and a more likely desire to participate in extracurricular activities.  On the contrary, the child who has persistent toothaches will struggle to perform as school while developing a pessimistic outlook in their self-esteem.  

When a child is consistently absent from school, it affects their development in more than one way.  Researchers with The American Journal of Public Health explored this very notion.  In 2011, the University of North Carolina did a study that led the team of researchers to conclude that: “school absences caused by dental pain or infection were significantly related to parents’ reports of poor school performance, whereas school absences for routine dental care were not. These findings underscore the likelihood that school absence is not a stand-alone factor in considerations of school performance, providing further evidence that children experiencing pain or infection may have a diminished educational experience because their discomfort may inhibit their ability to perform well while at school.”

Children who have good oral care are better equipped to perform well in other areas of their schooling and social life.  Keeping your child’s dental well being in mind begins with routine visits to the dentist.  Having ideal oral hygiene is not as random as it seems - it takes more than just brushing your teeth.  Parents need to make it a habit to schedule dental appointments even if it means that kids need to take some hours away from school to attend.