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Social Determinants of Health Can Impact Dental Health in Detrimental Ways

The burden of oral disease is disproportionately greater for children of low socioeconomic status (3). Social determinants of health (SDOH) can negatively affect their dental health in many ways. Some of the most critical barriers include:


  • Insufficient Access to Affordable Care: Dental care has the greatest financial barriers of any healthcare service (4). Even with Medicaid coverage, it’s often hard to find dental providers who accept it. Without regular visits to the dentist, it’s difficult for children to maintain good oral health habits and receive preventive treatment.


  • Poor Nutrition: Eating foods high in sugar, carbohydrates and acids can weaken tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities (5).


  • Lack of Education Contributing to Poor Oral Hygiene: Without proper education about the importance of proper oral hygiene habits, children may be more likely to develop dental health issues. Neglecting to brush and floss regularly can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, and other oral health problems (6).


  • Environmental Factors: Poor living conditions including air pollution, water quality, and other environmental conditions can all affect children’s dental health (7).


  • Low Socioeconomic Status: Kids from lower income families often lack the resources to purchase healthy foods for optimal nutrition or access public transportation for routine dental care. Additionally, parents or caregivers may not be able to get time off from work to take them to dental appointments (8).


  • Limited Community Resources: Communities unable to provide access to nutritious foods, fluoride-treated water, educational programs, and preventive dental care can create barriers to children’s oral health (8).


  • Social Support: Not having supportive family and friends who prioritize oral health can make it harder for kids to maintain good dental hygiene habits (33).


  • Stress: Children living in stressful environments or facing mental health issues can have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene practices (9).


Read the Benevis White Paper to learn more about the effects SDOH have on children’s oral health and ways to reduce these devastating health disparities.


*See all blog citation sources in the Reference section of the Benevis SDOH White Paper.