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Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
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More Dentists Mean Better Oral Health for City Kids
August 21, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Children in urban areas have better oral health if more dentists are available near them, says a study.

The research was done using 2007 data from a U.S. national survey. Researchers were from London; Bogota, Columbia; Iowa City; and Cambridge, Mass.

Children aged 1 to 10 with more dentists nearby had a 50% lower risk of decay, compared with children who had fewer dentists. Children with more dentists nearby also had an 80% lower risk of bleeding gums.

This relationship was not seen for older children.

Most dentists practice in metropolitan areas. Older data (1998) show that more than 10% of U.S. rural counties did not have even one dentist practicing in them. In Minnesota, for example, only 8.5% of dentists practice in rural areas, although 12.6% of the population lives in those areas.

At least one study has found that children in areas with fewer dentists are less likely to get preventive care. A 2012 study showed a 36% higher risk of not getting preventive care for kids in areas with few dentists. The risk was nearly as high as the risk associated with being uninsured (48% higher).

The more recent study was published in the August 14 online version of the American Journal of Public Health.

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