A new study has found that making less money isn’t just correlated with having poor dental health — being poor might also cause you to lose your teeth.
According to a Nov. 18 Newsweek article, the study, published in the Journal of Dental Health, surveyed more than 6,000 UK adults 21 and older from every income group and area of the country.
The study found that individuals who fell within the bottom 20th percentile of income had “substantially worse” dental health than those patients with higher incomes. This subset of the group studied had higher rates of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
Perhaps most troubling is that, past the age of 65, people with lower incomes had an average of eight fewer teeth than their wealthier peers, Newsweek reports. When oral health plays such a large part of one’s overall health and well-being, the study’s results are troubling, especially considering the number of people with poor dental health.
Even if they were to be given increased access to dental care, people of lower incomes still face other barriers to optimal dental health, the Newsweek article reports.
Education is one of those barriers. The study highlights a distinct relationship between one’s level of education and their perceptions about oral health and its effect on quality of life. The more educated someone is, the more he or she will understand that dental health is a necessity.
The study’s findings weren’t all bad, however — on the whole, average oral health was shown to be improving across all income levels, according to Newsweek. Yet the disparity between the dental health of the rich versus that of the poor is too great to ignore entirely.