The Impact of Poor Dental Health on Children

Children's Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
February 10, 2021

Young girl holding her sore mouth

In the same way that dental problems can affect other aspects of your health as an adult, if your child’s mouth isn’t healthy, it can have an adverse effect on their well-being. 

Below are some of the many reasons why it’s wise to take steps to keep your little one’s teeth and gums in tip-top shape. 

How Poor Dental Health Can Affect Kids

According to the CDC, many children and adolescents have at least one decayed tooth that’s untreated. Not good! 

What’s worse is that, when dental problems go untreated, a child may face a range of difficulties, such as the following:

1. Pain, Discomfort, and Trouble Chewing Food

If you’ve ever had a cavity that you didn’t treat in time, you know how painful it can become. Plus, cavities that aren’t filled might lead to infections that create even more discomfort. Ouch!

Also, when a child has one or more cavities, or when teeth are damaged because they’re chipped or fractured, the discomfort and pain may lead to trouble chewing food. This might result in a change in what the child can and can’t eat, and it might cause them to miss out on important nutrients that are necessary for proper development and growth. 

Keep in mind, too, that pain caused by tooth decay might inhibit children from enjoying everyday activities. And it might even get in the way of their ability to sleep because the discomfort keeps them awake at night. 

2. A Decrease in School Attendance and Performance

Another serious effect of poor dental health in kids is a decrease in their performance at school. 

Think about it: if your little one is experiencing oral pain that doesn’t go away, they’re bound to become distracted by it, to the point that they can’t fully concentrate on their schoolwork and homework. 

Oral pain can be a reason for missing school as well. In other words, in addition to being at a greater risk of performing poorly in school, kids with dental problems might also be more likely to stay home from school because of their symptoms. And, on top of having an impact on test scores and grades, this also causes kids to miss out on important lessons, so it may affect their future performance too. 

3. Low Self-Esteem and Embarrassment

Poor oral health can do more than cause physical pain. When children have unhealthy teeth and gums, or when they’re missing teeth, they may be embarrassed by their smile, and they might even be bullied. This might result in depression, shyness, or withdrawal from others. 

In addition to decay, tooth injuries that aren’t treated professionally might also cause negative effects on self-esteem because of the embarrassment that comes with an imperfect smile and damaged teeth.    

4. Negative Impacts on a Child’s Development

As discussed above, poor dental health is capable of adversely affecting a child’s development in more ways than one. Here are some other examples:

  • If a young child experiences tooth loss too soon, the development of their speech might suffer as a result. 
  • If a child misses too much school because of dental problems, their ability to learn may be affected. 
  • If a child isn’t able to chew properly and can’t enjoy eating a variety of foods, nutritional imbalances might affect their cognitive and physical development.        

Steps You Can Take to Support Your Child’s Oral Health

Beyond being a physical problem, poor dental health is something that can also impact children on an emotional and social level. Therefore, taking preventive measures is smart. 

A good place to start is by showing your children how to take amazing care of their teeth and gums at home. This includes brushing, flossing, drinking water, and eating right.

You can also make sure your kids wear a mouthguard when playing sports, as doing so may reduce the risk of injuries. 

And, of course, taking your child to the dentist regularly is a great way to help ensure your little one’s mouth can remain healthy while developing properly. 

Dental Insurance for Kids Can Be a Worthwhile Investment!

Don’t have dental insurance yet? It’s time to consider it! Families who have a dental plan that helps cover the cost of care are more likely to make those important trips to the dentist. This means their kids can get the check-ups, cleanings, and treatments, from sealants to fillings, that can help keep teeth and gums strong. 

At Spirit Dental, you’ll find affordable plans that can help cover the cost of preventive care as well as dental insurance for major restorative care!  So, now that you’re aware of the risks associated with poor dental health early in life, you can take a big step toward making sure your little one won’t have to go through any of that hardship. 



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