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51 Million Missed School Hours: a Myth? Dr. Burton Edelstein

Highlights

51 million is an all-too often cited statistic relating to the number of missed school hours amongst the population of US children. But what does this number really reflect?

The study by Edelstein and Reisine found that searching for “51 million missed school hours for children” results in a wide range of material related to pediatric oral health. This, itself, contributes to the misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the social implications of children’s oral health. With respect to missed school hours, 51 million really represents less than 1/10 of one percent of the total numbers of hours that children spend in school.

However, this statistic does highlight the importance of pediatric dental problems and the fact that they are disproportionately higher among children from minority groups and families of lower socioeconomic status who do not have access to dental insurance. The number that matters most is 1 – a single child who suffers from preventable caries. Early interventions and payment systems that encourage individualized care can help get that number to zero.

Reference

Edelstein BL, Reisine S. Fifty-one million: A mythical number than matters. J Am Dent Assoc. 2015. 146:565-566.

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