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Dental Problems Number One Reason FL Kids Miss School

PHOTO: Children in Florida who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low GPA. Photo courtesy of Project Dentists Care
PHOTO: Children in Florida who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low GPA. Photo courtesy of Project Dentists Care
August 25, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Every day thousands of children in Florida arrive at school with dental pain and tooth decay. The Florida Dental Association reminds parents of the importance of a preventive cleaning as school starts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year because of dental-related health problems, making it the number one reason for missed school. Jacksonville dentist Dr. Richard Stevenson says tooth pain can be a large roadblock in a child's success.

"While they're in school if they have that continual pain, they can't concentrate properly so they can't perform at a peak level," Stevenson says. "They're not getting all the benefit of going to school when they're in pain like that."

According to the American Journal of Public Health, children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low GPA when compared with children without oral pain. The state of Florida provides dental services to low-income and special-needs children up to 18 years of age under Kidcare programs, which include Medicaid, Healthy Kids, MediKids and Children's Medical Services.

Stevenson says in spite of the greater prevalence of fluoride in drinking water, what a child eats and drinks can have a big impact, even if they have good brushing habits.

"It's starting to get worse. All the soft drinks, Gatorade, the high-acidic food, the refined carbohydrates. It's easier to do that than it is to eat fruits and vegetables," says Stevenson.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, tooth decay is the most preventable disease in children. The National Institutes of Health report 41-percent of children, age two to 11, have had a cavity.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL