Too many of our youth suffer from poor oral health and oral disease, considered one of the most common chronic health conditions found in our schools. Imagine if you will an elementary school, where almost 51 percent of the students have treated and untreated caries (cavities).
You may remember the pain you felt when you had a cavity or a broken tooth. Hopefully, the student received treatment before the cavity caused more damage and pain, costing more time and money, and the possible loss of that tooth. Then try to imagine how a child feels when their family cannot take them to get treatment for any number of reasons. The decay continues to grow, with increased pain and potentially severe infection. Can you imagine yourself sitting in class, trying to pay attention to the teacher, doing your best, but distracted by pain and discomfort? Or the infected tooth kept you home, missing school altogether? Oral health and overall health are connected. When the mouth is healthy, the body is more likely to be healthy, too.
Can you imagine any other disease or illness allowed to impact upward of 51 percent of elementary children without a public outcry and immediate response?
Far too many of our children suffer from the silent epidemic of untreated oral disease, disproportionately affecting children of color and families with low incomes.