Oral Health Disparities
The following info is from the CDC. The economic factors that often relate to poor oral health include access to health services and an individual’s ability to get and keep dental insurance.
Disparities in Oral Health
Some of the oral health disparities that exist include the following:
- Overall. Non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians and Alaska Natives generally have the poorest oral health of any racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
- Children and Tooth Decay. The greatest racial and ethnic disparity among children aged 2–4 years and aged 6–8 years is seen in Mexican American and black, non-Hispanic children.
- Adults and Untreated Tooth Decay. Blacks, non-Hispanics, and Mexican Americans aged 35–44 years experience untreated tooth decay nearly twice as much as white, non-Hispanics.
- Tooth Decay and Education. Adults aged 35–44 years with less than a high school education experience untreated tooth decay nearly three times that of adults with at least some college education.
- In addition, adults aged 35–44 years with less than a high school education experience destructive periodontal (gum) disease nearly three times that of adults with a least some college education.
- Adults and Oral Cancer. The 5–year survival rate is lower for oral pharyngeal (throat) cancers among black men than whites (36% versus 61%).
- Adults and Periodontitis. 47.2% of U.S. adults have some form of periodontal disease. In adults aged 65 and older, 70.1% have periodontal disease.
- Periodontal Disease is higher in men than women, and greatest among Mexican Americans and Non-Hispanic blacks, and those with less than a high school education.
Why do these disparities in oral health exist? Many disparities are based on higher levels of risk factors (see below) within a given population. Levels of diabetes are much higher among African Americans, again as per the CDC. The high prevalence of diabetes and obesity, is largely linked to periodontal disease. As age increase, we see a higher amount of both heart disease and diabetes, which is a contributing factor of periodontal disease. While we see an increasing trend among all ethnic groups, the highest prevalence still remain African American males and females.
Periodontal Disease and longer term implications of poor oral health:
A recent CDC report1 provides the following data related to prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S.:
- 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
- Periodontal Disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
This condition is more common in men than women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%)
Certain factors increase the risk for poor oral health and periodontal disease:
- Diabetes*** on the rise at very high rates! 1 in 3 people born today will have diabetes
- Poor oral hygiene
- Crooked teeth
- Underlying immuno-deficiencies—e.g., AIDS
- Fillings that have become defective
- Taking medications that cause dry mouth
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives
What Can You Do about your oral health?
- Quit smoking if you smoke
- See you dentist (come see us at Altman Dental) at least twice a year, or if you are at risk of periodontal disease, 3 times per year
- Floss daily, and brush at least twice a day
- Eat whole, plant-based foods as much as possible
- Avoid refined, processed foods
Looking for ways to boost your health and eat more veggies, fruits, and whole grains? Check out www.gardenfreshfoodie.com for oil-free, plant-based recipes and healthy cooking classes in Buffalo, NY. Jessica, the writer of Garden Fresh Foodie, helps people trasition to a plant-based diet and sees clients in our office, at Altman Dental.