Poor children suffer from more dental decay than their wealthier peers. In many cases, they live in communities where oral health services are hard to find. They lack access to the basic preventive care that children from more affluent families take for granted.
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Health officials and advocates stress the importance of addressing those disparities, expanding the nation’s public health infrastructure, opening more clinics in poor places.
Researchers into public health challenges have pointed out that whether you are fighting obesity or dental decay, it is harder to grow up healthy in a stressed, dysfunctional neighborhood than in one with amenities that promote well-being.
Better oral health services can help address the oral health problems of the community. But the community is just one ring in a kind of concentric system of factors some experts see as coming to bear upon wellness and disease.
The family is another ring in that system, they say. And new research suggests that the emotional health and educational level of mothers can have a lasting impact upon children’s oral health.
Starting with the oral health of teens and working backwards to age 3, researchers at Case Western Reserve Dental School explored what factors in the children’s past might have influenced their oral health outcomes.