Stats show trends between education and oral health
SUMMARY: Research by two different organizations were compared to find that education and oral health tend to go hand in hand.
Posted: July 15, 2013
Nationwide, the declining oral health of individuals has been a hot?-button topic. Recent research suggests that education should take the blame more than the availability of dentists. When comparing statistics from a 2011 Gallup poll to the Population Reference Bureau's education stats during the same year, researchers found that areas where individuals are less educated, oral health is worse. This is especially worrisome for children's oral health, which is incredibly important for the overall wellbeing of kids.
The research found that the top six states ranked for the amount of times residents visited the dentist were also in the top 10 most educated states. On the other hand, eight of the worst states for dental visits were in the 10 least educated states. While Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Massachusetts round out the top five, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Louisiana are in the bottom five.
"Regionally, people living in states in the Northeast and upper Midwest are the most likely to say they visited the dentist in the past 12 months. Southern states, on the other hand, have the lowest percentages of people who say they visited the dentist. The nine states with the lowest incidence of dentist visits are in the South," Gallup stated.
According to a separate study conducted by Case Western Reserve University, a mother's emotional wellbeing and education plays a large role in a child's oral health as well. Researchers analyzed 224 adolescents for the amount of dental plaque on their teeth, tooth decay and both filled and missing permanent teeth. Then, they surveyed mothers for the dental history of their children, including the use of sealants, mouthwash and consumption of sugary beverages. The team paired the results with the health and education background of the mothers during the early stages of the kids' lives, which was between three and eight years old.
Mothers who had some higher education were more knowledgeable about healthy eating and the overall impact of one's oral health than moms who did not receive further education. Similarly, mothers with poor mental health paid less attention to the important practices that help children avoid cavity treatments, tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease.
Many of the states that were listed with lower levels of education and more frequent instances of oral health issues are also ones where individuals have diets high in unhealthy food. People who are concerned should try to detect bad breath, which is an indicator of poor oral health.