Find out what an oral health report card says about your state

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Kate Sumbler via Flickr

Oral health can offer useful insights into a state’s livability.

That is a key message contained in WalletHub’s new report card: 2019’s States With the Best & Worst Dental Health.

This is the third year that the personal finance website has delved into dental care, crunching data from federal and nonprofit sources to come up with its rankings. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were scored using more than two dozen metrics; everything from the cost of common dental procedures to smoking and soda consumption rates to the availability of school sealant programs.

By WalletHub’s 2019 measures, Wisconsin ranks Number 1 for overall dental health, closely followed by North Dakota (2), Minnesota (3), Connecticut (4) and Illinois (5).

At the bottom of the list are Louisiana (47), Alabama (48), West Virginia (49), Mississippi (50) and finally Arkansas, ranked 51st.

The 2019 report card breaks out ratings for some specific indicators: for instance Hawaii claims the most dentists per capita. Louisiana has the least.

The report includes an “Ask the Experts” feature where dental educators and professionals weigh in on topics such as home hygiene and community water fluoridation.

In a Q and A following the publication of the 2018 report card, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez discussed her work on the project. She also suggested ways that reporters might use the findings to take a new look at oral health in their states.

Check and see how your state is faring.

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