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

New survey finds absences vary by region, Delta Dental releases summertime tips to help prevent repeat next school year

OAK BROOK, Ill. (July 1, 2015) - This past school year was a painful one for many U.S. students, according to a new survey out today from Delta Dental. The survey finds that more than 30 percent of parents said their children between the ages of six and 12 had to miss school due to an oral health problem.

School absence breakdown:

    

  • How much school missed: 18 percent of parents reported their children missed at least a half a day of school, four percent said their children missed one day, four percent reported children missing two days and six percent said their children had to miss three or more days.
  • By region: School children in the Northeast reported the most absences because of a dental issue, with 36 percent of parents reporting their six 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).

The good news: Some attention to the issue over the summer can help avoid oral health problems. Today, Delta Dental is releasing 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.