Sunday, October 02, 2011

Have I mentioned I'm coping with my painful teeth?


Richard Florida looks at Gallup's data on who goes to the dentists.

Income is key, as the Gallup-Healthways study surmised. People see a dentist more frequently in higher-income states. The correlation between the two is considerable (.66). But income is not the only factor to play a role. ...

Dental visits closely track socioeconomic class. They are much higher in states where a higher percentage of the workforce is employed in knowledge, professional, and creative work. The creative class is significantly associated with dentist visits (.31). The same is true of the share of college graduates, a measure of the knowledge base and human capital in a state. The correlation between dental visits and college grads is even higher (.65). On the flip side, visits to the dentist are negatively associated with the working class share of a state’s workforce (-.28).

There's more:

We find close associations between oral health and two key health factors: smoking and obesity. Visits to the dentist are negatively associated with both smoking (-.55) and obesity (-.6). Not surprisingly, more frequent dental visits are associated with higher levels of overall happiness and subjective well-being (with a correlation of .57).

Oral health also reflects the underlying divide between Red and Blue America. Oral health is positively associated with states that voted for Obama in 2008 (.38) and negatively associated with McCain states (-.42).

This article doesn't mention what seems obvious to me about access to dental care. Because dental medicine's evolution became disassociated from and lower status than other health care activities, it is not routinely thought to be something covered by insurance. Even when people have dental insurance, it routinely covers little more than a yearly check up. Of course people aren't going to the dentist -- they can't afford to!

We go to dentists when we can ... and when we decide we have to.

1 comment:

mary said...

My husband, age 68, has had 2 cavities in his life. Both ended up with root canals. One was pulled in Decembe rand after six months of in and out had a dental implant. Now, today the other tooth must be pulled after several interventions. He is advised to get another implant because the rest of his teeth are so good. The cost of both implants -about $11,000. We have a mediocre dental plan. I m a retired private school teacher with only social security. My husband is a retired federal employee. After educating 3 children through college, we have not saved much - or gone anywhere either. The young man who removed a dead limb from a tree today had few teeth and those looked rotten. My mother always said to try to save my teeth and I have - seven root canals and many crowns later. It has been a financial burden for us and I cannot imagine how the poor get along. Our week end free clinics are overflowing. It seems that since teeth affect your overall health, there would be an effort tom provide reasonable dental care. I guess in today's climate of kill Obama care, teeth can rot too. Mary

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