Oral Health and School Readiness

Poor oral health can affect a child’s attendance, grades, and overall performance in school. In 2018, over 440,000 of California K-12 students missed school due to dental problems. Children with poor dental health may:

  • Miss more school and receive lower grades than children with good dental health.
  • Have difficulty eating, talking, and concentrating in school.
  • Develop an infection that can affect their overall health.

The good news is tooth decay among children is preventable! Teaching your child good dental care habits at a young age is important. Children with good oral health are ready to learn. Follow these steps:

  • Help your child brush their teeth. Use a soft bristle toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste with the Seal of Acceptance from the ADA. Help your child gently brush the inner, outer, and chewing surface of their teeth using small circles. Brush for two (2) minutes, twice (2) a day.
  • Teach your child to floss. Children need to clean between their teeth everyday to remove plaque and food where a brush can’t reach. Click here for a step-by-step guide to flossing.
  • Don’t forget regular dental checkups. Dental checkups can help identify and treat dental problems before they become painful and costly. Some children are unable to communicate their dental pain. The dentist can also help answer questions you may have about your child’s daily dental care.

The Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment

The Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment (KOHA) is a dental screening for children entering school. The KOHA is not a dental exam with x-rays and does not involve making a treatment plan. It is an assessment to see if there are any signs of tooth decay. It helps identify children with untreated dental disease and helps parents find a dental home for their children.

The KOHA dental screening consists of a form provided with the kindergarten registration packet. The form can be completed by a dental office or through a school with a School Dental Program. Speak with your child’s dentist or school office staff to learn more.