How Oral Health Affects Learning and Education

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Author Bio: Originally from the U.S., Rana Tarakji is the founder of One SEO – a link building company – and a web content specialist who now lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including Life Hacker, Upwork, Christian Today, Newswire, and many other outlets.

Proper care of the teeth should start from the moment your child’s first pearly white pops out. Dentists and healthcare professionals always advise children and their parents of the importance of regular brushing and flossing. Although brushing and flossing come later when your child has more than one or two teeth, cultivating a mindset for good oral health is important.

Scheduled trips to the dental clinic for routine cleaning and dental check-ups are equally important when it comes to your child’s overall health. Aside from a great smile, healthcare professionals believe that oral health has a larger impact on the everyday lives of their patients, including children.

Not many people know that a child’s learning process is affected by poor oral health. In a school setting, students with poor oral health face several consequences that can affect their learning process. These include:

  • Impaired psychological development. Preschoolers and school-age kids are the most common patients that undergo fluoride varnish treatments, because they are more prone to dental caries and have yet to establish proper dental hygiene. Regardless of age, however, dental cavities continue to threaten the academic population. The existence of these dental problems among students has a great psychological impact on them. Students who suffer from toothaches and damaged teeth may be subject to early forms of depression, low self-esteem, and may even be ridiculed because of their condition. Learning and going to school then becomes a painful experience to them, instead of being a rewarding source of knowledge.

 

  • Speech problems. Oral health may also affect speech development, especially among students of the younger ages. Missing teeth and constant toothaches can interfere with speaking and being able to express themselves properly. For children, especially preschoolers, speech development is a crucial part of education as language and words play an important role in relaying information meant to be learned by the student. Bad teeth may drive some young children to limit the times they open their mouth, making them not want to talk much and preventing them from practicing their speech.

 

  • Poor nutrition. Oral health problems, when not addressed properly, can be a huge setback for students. Dental concerns such hypersensitivity and incomplete set of teeth can also affect diet and nutrition. Students have problems biting and chewing certain foods when they have poor oral health. The result is a possible nutritional gap due to a restricted diet. When this happens, the student may have lower academic performance due to cognitive problems resulting from nutritional deficiency.

 

  • Behavioral concerns. Students with poor oral health are also at risk for developing behavioral changes that may turn problematic, over time. Absenteeism due to tooth aches or oral infection, for example, may turn into a habit. Social relations may also be affected as students with oral health problems tend to either be irritable (due to experienced pain) or aloof and too shy to interact with others. Ultimately, these forms of behavior can interfere with the students’ quality of learning.