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New Study Finds Poorest People in Society Have Eight Fewer Teeth Than Richest By 70 Years Old

Last updated 3 years ago

BBC reports a 6,000 person study has found oral health among the poorest 20% compared to their richer counterparts.  Published in the Journal of Dental Research, the study also finds the poor also suffer from more tooth decay.  Other symptoms also include gum disease and gaps in teeth.  Although previous research has shown the younger generations to have healthier mouths than previous generations.  

Professor Jim Steele, head of the Newcastle University dental school comments "It's probably not a big surprise that poorer people have worse dental health than the richest, but the surprise is just how big the differences can be and how it affects people.  Eight teeth less on average is a huge amount and will have had a big impact for these people.  From our data, it is hard to say which specific factors are driving each of the differences we are seeing here, but there is probably a real mix of reasons and it is not just about, for example, the availability of treatment."

Professor Richard Watt, the University College London's head of epidemiology and public heath adds that the inequalities in oral health require urgent action to rectify, and more needs to be done to tackle the underlying causes of oral disease.  

Sydney Alcock, a Washington Resident, lost all his teeth at a young age due to gum disease, which he admits was caused primarily by poor oral hygiene.  He says "I have had false teeth but they don't last, so losing my teeth has made a big impact on my life.  It costs a lot of money for false teeth.  When I was young we didn't have milk or eggs, or much other dairy. We had to eat powdered eggs.  I'm sure that has had an impact on how good my teeth were."

Doctor Sandra White from Public Health England is combating the problem by providing additional guidance on improving the oral health of young people, especially in the lower socio-economic class.  And is also developing programs to offer guidance focused on supporting vulnerable adults.  She gives the overall advice of not consuming sugary food or drink, brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste - especially before bed, and visiting the dentist regularly to prevent tooth decay.


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