Income link in oral health

A STUDY by researchers in Newcastle has found that oral health is markedly worse among the poorest 20 per cent of British society compared with the richest.

More than 6,000 people from England, Wales and Northern Ireland were involved in the study - published in the Journal of Dental Research - which found that among dental patients over age 65 years, the least well-off averaged eight fewer teeth than the richest, a quarter of a full set of teeth.

Those with lower income, lower occupational class, higher deprivation and lower educational attainment generally had the worst clinical outcomes, including having more tooth decay, gum disease and tooth gaps, as well as having less teeth overall.

Professor Jimmy Steele CBE, Head of the Dental School at Newcastle University, and lead author said: "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."

Dr John Milne, Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, commented: "The tools to break this pattern are neither new nor expensive. Education, fluoridation and sugar controls can all make a difference, and we must ensure dentists have contracts in place that recognise and reward work on prevention."