Children's dental health, school performance, and psychosocial well-being

J Pediatr. 2012 Dec;161(6):1153-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.05.025. Epub 2012 Jun 23.


Objective: To assess the effects of dental health on school performance and psychosocial well-being in a nationally representative sample of children in the US.

Study design: We analyzed data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health for 40,752-41,988 children. The effects of dental problems and maternal-rated dental health on school performance and psychosocial well-being outcomes were evaluated using regression models adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics.

Results: Dental problems were significantly associated with reductions in school performance and psychosocial well-being. Children with dental problems were more likely to have problems at school (OR = 1.52; 95% CI: 1.37-1.72) and to miss school (OR = 1.42; 95% CI: 1.23-1.64) and were less likely to do all required homework (OR = 0.76; 95% CI: 0.68-0.85). Dental problems were associated with shyness, unhappiness, feeling of worthlessness, and reduced friendliness. The effects of dental problems on unhappiness and feeling of worthlessness were largest for adolescents between 15 and 17 years.

Conclusion: Preventing and treating dental problems and improving dental health may benefit child academic achievement and cognitive and psychosocial development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Depression / etiology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Schools
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Report
  • Shyness
  • Social Behavior*
  • Tooth Diseases / complications
  • Tooth Diseases / psychology*
  • United States