Back to school, with dental problems

By the CDHP team

​When my daughter was 10, a school screening exam revealed her lousy eyesight. When the teacher wrote on the board, my child would struggle to decipher the words before starting an assignment. 

What a distraction. And distractions, including dental pain, make it harder to learn. As a new school year begins, consider:

  • Toothaches are common among school-age children. Nearly 14% of kids ages 6-12 experienced toothache in a six-month period, says this analysis of national survey data. Significantly more toothaches were reported by children from low-income families, and children with special needs.
  • Dental pain can lead to school absences. North Carolina children with poor oral health were nearly three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain. Such absences were linked to lower school performance.  
  • Students with toothaches may have lower GPAs. A Los Angeles study found that children with toothaches were four times more likely to have a low grade-point average. Children's dental problems also caused parents to lose an average of 2.5 days from work or school. 

How can we turn this around? Several ways, but first among them is access to quality care that families can afford. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is how more than 8 million children get dental coverage. If Congress allows CHIP’s funding to expire in September of next year, thousands of families would have no affordable alternative for securing dental benefits for their kids.

Learn more about why CHIP dental coverage matters by reading our issue brief, CHIP’s Uncertain Future.

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Did you know?

Children with poor oral health were nearly 3x more likely to miss school due to dental pain.
More on the state of dental health ›