States with worst dental and eating habits correlate
SUMMARY: Oral health differs state by state, but research shows that several states ranking low in dental health also have poor eating habits.
Posted: May 7, 2013
The United States is filled with many distinct pockets of people, each of which has its own customs and culture. Accordingly, oral health differs from state to state. From education to available coverage, public oral health trends can vary across the country. Several states that rank at the bottom of the list for oral health are also placed at the top of the list for worst eating habits. A healthy mouth and body work together to create overall wellbeing, and poor care of one could affect the other. A report released by the Kaiser Commission, "Oral Health in the U.S.: Key Facts," determined the main issues Americans face with maintaining their oral health and compared each state with certain indicators.
According to the report, 15 percent of the United States population lives in a dental Health Professional Shortage Area (dental HPSA), and about 50 percent of states don't have access to fluorinated drinking water. Even though tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, one in four children have untreated tooth decay, which can lead to bad breath and other mouth ailments. The study discovered a similar rate for adults.
The study found that residents in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington and Rhode Island had the highest percentage of adults who visited the dentist within the past year, while people living in Oklahoma, Mississippi, West Virginia, Montana and Arkansas were the least likely. Statistics ranked the percentage of a state's population that lived in an indicated dental HPSA and Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina and Alabama had the highest percentage of their population living in these areas. The smallest percentage of residents living in a dental HPSA were found in Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Vermont and Indiana.
According to another study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts' Dental Campaign, North Carolina is among the worst states in the U.S. for children's dental health. The state also has residents who are least likely to have children with dental sealants, which protect against tooth decay and overall oral health for kids.
"Oral health problems not only can be painful but are linked to lower academic scores and additional physical problems," Jane Koppelman, senior officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts' Dental Campaign said. "Sealants are a quick, one-time procedure costing about a third of the cost of filling a molar, the most cavity-prone teeth."
Eating proper foods and maintaining regular oral health care practices are just as important as having access to dental health facilities. In the report published in the medical journal Lancet, balanced eating similarly varies from state to state, but there are some states that appeared on both lists. Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi and Alabama all appeared on the top 10 list of states with the worst eating habits. For individuals in these areas, oral health issues are more prevalent because diet plays such a large role in causing bad breath, an increased amount of dental plaque and oral health for kids.
In this study, states were ranked by the amount of grocery stores available, the average amount of money spent on fast food per capita, the gallons of soft drinks purchased per capita and the pounds of sweet snacks purchased per capita. Mississippi topped the list as the state with the worst eating habits in the country, and only 8.8 percent of adults here consume the recommended amount of daily fruits and vegetables. The state also has the highest rates of type II diabetes (12.8 percent) and adult obesity (34.4 percent).
Residents living in the states that topped the list for worst eating habits may want to reconsider their daily food intake to improve both their oral and overall health. Poor dental hygiene can lead to heart disease and other issues in the body.