31% of U.S. parents say kids missed school due to dental problems

July 28, 2015

How much school missed: 18 percent of parents reported their children missed at least a half a day of school, while 4 percent said their children missed one day, 4 percent reported children missing two days and 6 percent said their children had to miss three or more days.

 

A new survey from Delta Dental found more than 30 percent of parents said their children between the ages of 6 and 12 had to miss school due to an oral health problem.  

The breakdown:

How much school missed: 18 percent of parents reported their children missed at least a half a day of school, while 4 percent said their children missed one day, 4 percent reported children missing two days and 6 percent said their children had to miss three or more days.

By region: Children in the Northeast reported the most absences because of a dental issue, with 36 percent of parents reporting their 6-to 12-year-olds missed school, followed by the South (33 percent), the Midwest (28 percent) and the West (28 percent).

By parents' age: Parents age 35-44 reported the most amount of school missed by their children (35 percent), followed closely by parents 18-34 (34 percent), while parents 45 and older reported the least amount of school missed (19 percent).

Related reading: Survey finds shocking number of patients lie to their dentists about flossing

The good news is attention to the issue over the summer can help avoid oral health problems. Delta Dental, a nonprofit national network of independent dental service corporations, provides six quick tips to help parents get their kids on the right oral health track during the summer months:

Brush all surfaces of the teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

Brush gently for about two minutes and pay special attention to the gum line.

Floss at least once a day.

Limit not only sugary snacks but also high-starch or refined carbohydrate foods. These include foods like chips, pretzels, cookies, breads and dried fruits, including raisins. The bacteria that cause tooth decay thrive on simple sugars, especially those in sticky foods and treats.

Limit fruit juice or other sweet/sugary drinks to mealtimes. Between meals and especially at bedtime, give your child water. It keeps them hydrated and helps prevent tooth-decay if your community water is fluoridated.

And, of course, go to the dentist early enough before school starts to learn about current or looming issues that could pose a problem. 

More information can be found online in Delta Dental's child dental and oral health care section.

Research: Study finds periodontal disease most prevalent among ethnic minorities