Texas ranks near the bottom on dental health

Texas ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to dental health, according to a study conducted by WalletHub.

According to the study, Texas ranks 42nd out of all 50 states in the U.S. in regards to care of those pearly whites.

Dr. Ashley Strickland, DDS, and Dr. Jason Carlyon, DDS, at Buda Dental Professionals said dental health in Hays County is split down the middle, with patients who exhibit good and bad dental hygiene.

Both Strickland and Carlyon said prevention of oral health problems is the key to good health. They both stress prevention should begin at an early age.

“We recommend that a child’s first dental visit be at 1 year of age, because it will not only help evaluate the child’s dental health, it will get them used to going to the dentist and get them more engaged in talking with their parents about dental health,” Strickland said.

Strickland and Carlyon said poor dental health could lead to a number of health problems including cardiovascular issues, obesity and complications with pregnancy.

Dental professionals call it the mouth-body connection.

Since so many factors can affect dental health, such as smoking, drinking sugary beverages, eating certain foods as well as brushing and flossing, Strickland and Carlyon recommend prevention from day one to avoid dental issues.

Strickland said economic status doesn’t really play a role in a person’s dental health, except that some people face roadblocks to dental assistance regarding affordability and access.

Carlyon and Strickland also pointed to the fact that Texas has high numbers of those who are obese or diabetic, which directly correlate to the state’s low dental health ranking.

Strickland said another factor in Southern states could be the socioeconomic effects of kids learning to drink soft drinks, rather than water.

In turn, those children often pass on those behaviors to the next generation. 

“There are so many young families in Hays County, so we want to educate them, so the next generation has less dental problems than their parents did,” Strickland said.

According to the Wallet Hub survey, the presence of fluoridated water in certain states has an affect on overall dental health.

Strickland said it is a “personal choice to ingest fluoride in your water.”

Strickland added that studies she has seen prove that fluoride reduces tooth decay, but said there are more ways of being exposed to fluoride than in drinking water.

“Fluoride is not the main player in overall dental health,” Strickland said.

Strickland said that halfway through a person’s childhood, the enamel on their teeth stop forming. When that happens, applying fluoride products topically is more important than ingesting fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

To help parents and their kids focus on good dental health at a young age, the duo have created their “learning lab,” where children can perform various experiments related to dental health.

“The Learning Lab helps us engage kids on their level to get them more involved in their own dental health,” Carlyon said.

Carlyon added they should have an adult learning lab as well to teach adults more about their dental health.

According to Wallet Hub, the average cost of a dental checkup, without insurance, is $85 to $100, with fillings ranging from $200 to $300. Crowns can cost more than $1,100, making affordability a roadblock to good dental health.

Strickland said affordability in dentistry is tricky, but there are ways to pay for dental care without insurance. Strickland cited community clinics or paying with cash, or even payment plans at certain dentists offices.

“In our practice we believe in custom care for our patients instead of just visiting the dentist twice a year to ensure they have the right dental care for their dental needs,” Strickland said.

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