Home Ownership and Dental Health

What does home ownership have to do with visits to the dentist? According to a new preliminary study, it may be a key indicator of dental health.

Experts have been discussing for more than a year why some people do or do not visit a dentist at least once each money-house-on-white-background -storyblocks -   rYxfcT6Niyear. A large number of studies have demonstrated the vital connection between oral health and general health. Previous studies have determined that cost is the primary barrier to dental care among U.S. adults. (The next two barriers are: insurance didn’t cover procedures and too busy.) Studies have examined the role of various socioeconomic factors in the decisions of adults to see their dentist.

The new study examined “wealth” and income as correlates of dental health. Researchers defined wealth status in terms of home ownership and income of more than $2,900 per month (poverty income ratio). Based upon this definition, participants were divided into four groups: high wealth and high income, high wealth and low income, low wealth and low income, and low wealth and high income. Members of each group were asked if they saw a dentist during the last 12 months.

The findings indicated a correlation between high wealth and income and good dental health. This is not surprising to most of us because cost is less likely to be a barrier to dental care. Yet many other factors come into play in the analyses: age, race, education, ethnicity, marital status, employment, etc. The definition of wealth is difficult to ascertain and needs further refinement. Home ownership alone may not be an adequate definition of wealth, for example.

This is the first study conducted that utilizes wealth and income as differentiators. It has opened the door for further study of the role of other factors with wealth and income in the future. It is important because it can provide insight and guidance to policymakers who are being asked to find solutions and programs to assist citizens to obtain dental care.

It is encouraging to see new approaches to the demographic data. We hope that these studies offer reliable and useful insights for those tasked with helping all citizens obtain quality dental care.