Impact of Poor Oral Health on Children

Oral health in children encompasses a broad range of dental and oral disorders. In addition to caries and gingival disease, children can also suffer from malocclusion (poor bite) and from birth defects such as cleft lip/palate. More than 65% of all cases of child abuse involve trauma to the face, head and mouth but children also sustain facial injuries in sports and play. Children with special health care needs are at high risk of oral disease because of complications of their conditions, medications, diets and problems performing proper oral hygiene.

Early tooth loss can result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, absence from and inability to concentrate in school and reduced self-esteem.

Poor oral health has also been related to poor social relationships andpermanent disabilities that affect the ability to learn and grow. Children with chronic dental pain might also have to limit their food choices because of chewing problems. Inadequate childhood nutrition can affect school readiness, school performance and behaviour.

Decayed primary teeth and gum diseases cause pain, abscesses, infections, which can spread to the permanent teeth and the body. If a primary tooth is lost prematurely, permanent teeth may come in crooked affecting their bite and jaw development.