"If you tell a parent their child has 61 percent decayed surfaces in the mouth, they'll say, 'Um-hmm. OK.' But if you tell them, 'The reason your child can't concentrate in school and gets bad grades isn't because they have ADD; it's because they have a toothache,' they'll understand how serious the problem is."
HOW HEALTHY? IT DEPENDS. Significant numbers of people who consider their overall health to be good or excellent rate their oral health as only fair to poor, a study of 560 adults in the Detroit metropolitan area showed.
"Oral health and general health are actually quite closely related, but people separate them in their minds," says assistant research scientist Woosung Sohn, who will present the study results on March 8. "In this study, among those who thought they were healthy, one-third perceived their oral health as fair to poor."
Those who considered their oral health to be under par had higher dental anxiety, lower educational levels, and lower incomes and were less likely to receive regular dental care than those who rated their oral health as good to excellent. The researchers also measured the patients' well-being and quality of life using a standard scale and found that those in the poor oral health group had significantly lower scores. (More research is needed to separate out cause and effect, says Sohn.) In addition, African Americans were more likely to be in this group, but age and gender appeared to have no effect on perceived oral health.
DENTURE DISTRESS. What impact does wearing dentures have on a person's life? In a study of patients fitted with dentures over the past decade, dentistry student Steven A. Gray found that about half reported no problems at al
Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
University of Michigan