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More Friends = Better Oral Health

Published on February 19, 2013 by

friends and money picA recent study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) concluded  that patients that have a strong social support system and that enjoy from other socioeconomic factors such as financial stability, improve their chances of  making more dental visits in their lifetime, thus enhancing their oral health. The authors analyzed data pertaining to adults 40 years and older from a sample of 2,500 people.

Interesting findings about the study:

1. Only about 49% of the population above 40 years old visit the dentist regularly (once every three years max)

2. Compared to patients 54 years or younger, those older than 75 years of age visit the dentist more often. Of that age group, females tend to go to the dentist more often than men.

3. The presence of an extensive social network is not a guarantee of better oral health. Frequency and type of available support from those social networks may be more important for dental visits than the quantity of the relationships.

4. Along these lines, the presence of a spouse does not influence self care, but it is the quality of the relationship and the functional support provided by the spouse or partner that matters.

5. Socioeconomic factors, such as education, income or ethnicity play an important role in patient’s ability to come to see their dentist often.

In conclusion, a strong social network, comprised  of quality relationships where patients feel supported and can discuss their dental issues, encourage health promoting activities. Socioeconomic factors, especially financial stability, also play a big role in enhancing a person’s oral health.

Source: JADA 2013; 144(2):188-194

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