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J Public Health Dent. 2008 Spring;68(2):82-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2007.00062.x.

Children's school performance: impact of general and oral health.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



The purpose of this study was to examine: a) the sociodemographic and health factors associated with poor school performance among North Carolina children; and b) the impact of poor oral health status on school performance while controlling for other health and sociodemographic factors.


We used data from the 2005 Child Health Assessment and Monitoring Program, a follow-back telephone survey to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System involving parents/guardians of children 0 to 17. This project includes sections on oral health and school performance. Our principal outcome variable was school performance and our major explanatory variable was children's oral health status, based upon parental report.


Our sample consisted of 2,871 school children, weighted to reflect the North Carolina census. Bivariate analysis revealed that sex, race, parental education, low socioeconomic status, poor general health, poor oral health, and the interaction of poor oral health and general health were significantly related to school performance (P < 0.05). Logistic regression analysis demonstrates the effects of poor oral health and general health on school performance. Children with both poor oral health and general health were 2.3 times more likely to report poor school performance. Children with either poor oral health or general health were only 1.4 times more likely to report poor school performance.


Our results show that children who have both poor oral health and general health are more likely to have poor school performance. Our findings suggest that the improvement of children's oral health may be a vehicle to improve their educational experience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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