For stories in the weekly Overextended Oklahomans series, journalists from participating newspapers have looked at the burdens exacted by payday lending, childhood hunger and the shortage of neonatal care. In one recent installment, reporting team member Caleb Slinkard offered a detailed exploration of how a scarcity of dental care is impacting poor and rural Oklahomans. Continue reading
Poor children suffer from more dental decay than their wealthier peers. In many cases, they may lack private insurance or live in communities where routine care or preventive dental treatments such as sealants can be hard to find. They may live in areas without fluoridated water or in places where tap water is mistrusted. Public health officials and advocates place great emphasis upon addressing such community needs.
In fact, at a recent Capitol Hill forum on oral health Lynn Douglas Mouden, D.D.S., the chief dental officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services went so far as to say, “The combination of dental sealants and community water fluoridation can prevent virtually all decay in children.”
Yet even when community issues are addressed, family dynamics may play a deciding role in oral health disparities.
Newly published research suggests that even young children who have had the benefits of dental insurance, fluoride treatments and sealants can suffer dental decay by the time they are teens.
For a study just published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine explored what factors in the children’s past might have influenced their oral health outcomes.
They concluded that the emotional health, educational level and coping skills of their mothers could have made the difference. Continue reading