The fatter your bank account, the better your teeth, survey finds

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
Image: Mavoimage/123RF

The more money and social standing you have, the less likely you are to suffer tooth loss.

A global survey by market research platform DentaVox of 2,582 people, primarily in the 20-45 age group, found that many believe that income is the defining factor for tooth loss.

The survey found 55% of respondents indicated that high social status meant fewer missing teeth.

“The popular injustice that the richer you are, the better is your health is confirmed by the respondents’ opinions. When asked about the social factors with the most significant affect on tooth loss, the largest share of them (21%) pointed out income level.

“Thereafter come education (8%) and the area of living (6%). Disability status and generation also made it to the top five,” the research states.

Company owners are believed to have the fewest missing teeth.

Though job position was not mentioned among the top five social factors affecting tooth loss, when asked a separate question about it, 53% of DentaVox respondents considered it relevant.

“Taking into account the above-mentioned results, it is not surprising that being a company owner was related to enjoying the fewest missing teeth in old age, according to 16% of survey participants, closely followed by CEO (15%) and manager (7%).

“All three positions are highly paid, which directly corresponds with the perception that income is the leading factor for tooth loss.”

According to Wits University's Community Oral Health Outreach Project (COHOP) — a community-based programme in the School of Oral Health Sciences —  “the most common oral diseases, such as dental caries [tooth decay and cavities] and periodontal [gum] disease are amenable to prevention and yet they continue to affect the quality of life of individuals of all ages.

“In SA, more than 60% of our primary schoolchildren suffer from dental decay. More concerning is that more than 80% of these children remain untreated for the disease due to the overburdened oral health system and poor health-seeking behaviour,” said the COHOP.

“In terms of  the elderly residing in Johannesburg, the prevalence of missing teeth is 85% and about 33% of these people are edentulous [lacking teeth] and in need of dentures.”

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