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Teething trouble: the worse U.S. dental records revealed

Good dental health and oral hygiene is not only important for maintaining healthy teeth, it is also tied to health overall. For example, the Oral Health Foundation connects poor oral health to:

Heart disease: Bacteria in the bloodstream can travel to the heart and lead to a heart attack.
Endocarditis: Mouth bacteria can reach the inner linings of the heart and valves triggering inflammation.
Stroke: Here oral bacteria can be a contributing factor to the arteries narrowing.
Inflammation: Inflamed gums and bleeding can lead to systemic inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Periodontal disease can worsen the pain suffered by those affected by auto immune disease.
Lung condition: People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia can see their condition worse following an increase of bacteria in the lungs.

In relation to these issues Digital Journal recently carried a news item reviewing a report issued by the Canadian Dental Association, calling on people not to overlook oral health when weighing up which aspects of overall physical and mental well-being.

The issue of good and bad dental hygiene is not eve,y distributed in the U.S., according to personal-finance website WalletHub. As part of U.S. National Children’s Dental Health Month the financiers have issued a special report (“2017’s States with the Best & Worst Dental Health”). The report compares the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 23 key metrics. The metrics cover everything from the “share of adolescents who visited a dentist in the past year” to “dental treatment costs”, and including things like the “share of adults with low life satisfaction due to oral condition.”

The outcomes are interesting, starting with those with the best record:

States with the Best Dental Health

1 Minnesota
2 Wisconsin
3 Illinois
4 North Dakota
5 Connecticut
6 Massachusetts
7 Michigan
8 District of Columbia
9 Iowa
10 Ohio

And with those with relatively poor records:

States with the Worst Dental Health

42 California
43 Florida
44 Alaska
45 Texas
46 Louisiana
47 Mississippi
48 Arkansas
49 Montana
50 Alabama
51 West Virginia

The differences are quote wide. Minnesota, Hawaii and Illinois, at the top, have the lowest percentage of adults with poor or fair oral condition, at 22 percent. This is twice as low as Montana, which has the highest levels at 40 percent.

The reasons for the variations in figures relate to economics, parental attitudes, rates of soda drinking and so on. For example, Connecticut has the lowest percentage of students in grades 9-12 who drank regular soda at least once per day at 11.9 percent. This is almost three times lower than in Kentucky, which has the highest soda drinking rate at 32.4 percent.

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Another factor is smoking. Here Utah has the lowest percentage of adult smokers at 9 percent, which is three times lower than in West Virginia, which has the highest at 27 percent.

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