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article imageComparing dental health rates across U.S. states

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2019 in Health
Dental health rates vary considerably across the U.S., with different levels of health for citizens and varying costs for dental treatment. The personal-finance website WalletHub ha issued a report assessing the data and resultant tissues.
The report has been produced to mark U.S. National Children’s Dental Health Month, which runs the course of February 2019. This health observance event aims to bring together medical and dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators, in order to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, plus their caregivers and teachers.
Dental health is a concern in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children aged 5-19 years with untreated dental caries is around 19 percent; and the proportion of adults aged 20-44 with untreated dental caries is around 32 percent.
WalletHub’s report into teeth and gum hygiene is titled “2019's States with the Best & Worst Dental Health”, and it contains some interesting patterns.
For the data assessment, WalletHub examined the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia through 26 primary metrics. The data set included the share of adolescents who visited a dentist in the past year and dental treatment costs. Other metrics included to share of adults with low life satisfaction that is the result of the poor oral condition of their teeth or gums.
Based on this, the top ten states with the best dental health are:
1. Wisconsin
2. North Dakota
3. Minnesota
4. Connecticut
5. Illinois
6. District of Columbia
7. Michigan
8. New Jersey
9. Massachusetts
10. Ohio
Meaning that the state boasting the best dental health is Wisconsin.
In contrast, the states with the worst dental health are:
1. California
2. Montana
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Alaska
6. Louisiana
7. Alabama
8. West Virginia
9. Mississippi
10. Arkansas
Meaning that Arkansas has the worst dental health in the U.S. Within these figures, there are patterns relating to overall dental health. Minnesota, Hawaii and Illinois have the lowest share of adults with poor health, at 22 percent. In contrast, in Montana, 40 percent of the population have poor dental health.
The video below provides an overview of the findings:
Outside of these rankings there are some figures of interest, which highlight the variations with the data. Rhode Island, for instance, has the lowest share of the population who cannot afford sufficient dental visits. The proportion affected is 37 percent of the state, compared with Georgia, which is the highest at 74 percent.
In terms of access to dentists, Hawaii has the most dentists per 100,000 residents at 49; whereas in Louisiana, it is just 16 dentists per 100,000 people. The District of Columbia has the greatest share of the population who receive fluoridated water — 100 percent. In contrast, in Hawaii the proportion is only around 12 percent.
Commenting on the findings, Marji Harmer-Beem, Director of Dental Hygiene and Associate Professor at the University of New England, explains why dental health is important: “Oral health is tied to well-being and overall health. Using tried and true methods to practice prevention of dental disease by disturbing bacterial biofilm on teeth and gums is easy and costs little but time and effort.”
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