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Poor Communities At Risk For Poor Dental Hygiene

First Posted: Nov 19, 2014 12:22 AM EST

It's easy to fall behind on your dental cleaning routine. Yet did you know that poor people in particularly are much more likely to deal with missing teeth or gum disease than their wealthier counterparts? Recent findings discussing the issue are presented in the Journal of Dental Research.

"It's probably not a big surprise that poorer people have worse dental health than the richest, but the surprise is just how big the differences can be and how it affects people. Eight teeth less on average is a huge amount and will have had a big impact for these people," said professor Jimmy Steele, head of the dental school at Newcastle University via BBC News. "From our data, it is hard to say which specific factors are driving each of the differences we are seeing here, but there is probably a real mix of reasons and it is not just about, for example, the availability of treatment."

For the study, researchers at Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne National Newcastle Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust and the National Center for Social Research and the University College London examined the oral health of more than 6,000 participants.

They found that it was far worse in individuals with low incomes, particularly among the poorest 20 percent of the sample. These participants were also more likely to have lower paying job and less education, potentially contributing to their risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth-loss.

Regular cleanings and checkups to keep teeth in top shape are essential. Researchers concluded by recommending that dental awareness is increased in lower-income communities, as well as more free screenings for individuals in need.

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