Survey finds 30% of U.S. kids ages 6 to 12 miss more than 9 million school days due to oral health problems

Parents cite oral heath as a top back to school concern

OAK BROOK, Illinois - August 18, 2016 - In the midst of all the back-to-school chaos, parents across the nation have a lot on their minds: grades, their child's friends, physical activity, and money. One of the top concerns? Oral health, according to a survey of the nation's parents out today from Delta Dental.

And with good reason. The data, a part of the National Children's Oral Health Survey by Delta Dental Plans Association, finds that U.S. parents report 30 percent, or roughly 8.6 million, of their 6 to 12-year-olds have missed school due to an oral health problem (as opposed to a regularly scheduled dental appointment).

Oral health impacting the classroom by the numbers:


  • 9,067,082: Roughly the number of full school days missed by children due to an oral health problem, as reported by parents.
  • 4,029,814: The number of half days parents say their 6 to 12-year-olds missed.
  •  71: Percent of parents that cite their child's oral health as a top concern they think about daily, right up there with school grades (61 percent), personal finances (62 percent), child's physical activity (55 percent), and with whom their child is friends (36 percent).

"For kids, oral health issues can mean a lot more than just a cavity. They can distract from schoolwork and lead to less time in the classroom, leaving kids with more ground to make up in their studies," said Bill Kohn, DDS, vice president of dental science and policy at Delta Dental Plans Association. "Parents are concerned, but some simple steps can help make all the difference."

Delta Dental has the following tips to help kids stay on top of their oral health:


  • Brush daily, using a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss to remove plaque, a major cause of both tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet, limit sugary and high refined carbohydrate foods and drinks.
  • Drink tap water (preferably fluoridated) instead of sugary sports drinks, soda pop, or fruit juices.
  • Get regular dental check-ups.

About the Survey: The Children's Oral Health Survey was conducted between December 16th, 2015 and January 14th, 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 1,307 parents of children ages 6-12. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percent.