Year of Publication

2014

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

William G. Pfeifle, EdD, MBA

Committee Member

Alex Howard, DrPH, ATC

Committee Member

Angela Carman, DrPH

Abstract

According to the former US Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, “You’re not healthy without good oral health.” Poor oral health, comprising of the presence of caries and/or periodontal disease, can lead to edentulism, which in turn can yield poor physical health, inability to communicate properly, poor mental health, and a lesser quality of life. In Kentucky, over one quarter of the adult population has lost six or more teeth due to decay or gum disease, a figure 10% higher than the national average. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine: a) Kentucky’s Statewide Oral Health Strategic Plan, implemented in 2006; and b) the oral health environment, namely dental service utilization and edentulism rates, in Kentucky during the six year period following the implementation of the statewide strategic plan. Methods: This study examined Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for three oral health questions during the even years occurring 2006-2012. Bivariate analyses between the year (independent variable) and the number of individuals utilizing dental services (dependent variable), and the year and edentulism rates (dependent variable) were performed using SPSS. Bivariate analyses were also performed between various demographic variables (independent variables) and both service utilization and edentulism. Results: There were no significant correlations between the year and the dependent variables save for a significant correlation between the year and the number of people who had been to the dentist more than 5 years ago. Various demographic variables proved significantly correlated with oral health service utilization (service utilized within the past one year) and low rates of edentulism (no teeth removed). Conclusions: As the years progressed, there were no significant correlations indicating increased service utilization or decreased edentulism rates. The only significant correlation observed between the year and the dependent variables indicated a decrease in service utilization post-implementation of the strategic plan. Significant correlations between demographic variables and the dependent variables highlight the effect education and income have on oral health.

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