Although most people know about the importance of dental care, millions of Americans are lacking in getting the dental treatments they need. Money, time, dental anxiety and state policies regarding public dental health initiatives are all excuses impacting the nation's decline in dental health. Unfortunately those influences have helped some American cities earn the title for having the citizens with the worst teeth.
In relation to dental health, beauty is definitely more than skin deep. While a smile with white, straight teeth and sans bad breath is certainly a fine attribute, a truly beautiful smile has little tooth decay, dental plaque and gum disease. Sadly, Americans who reside in Biloxi, Mississippi, Huntington, West Virginia or Mobile Alabama are known for having higher levels of dental problems and live in cities dubbed by TotalBeauty.com (http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/p-worst-teeth-cities) as homes for "America's Worst Teeth."
The problems only compounded by the states' public policies regarding dental health. The Pew Center, an independent, nonprofit organization that dedicates its efforts to addressing trends impacting the future of America, has taken to monitoring cost-efficient public policies targeting dental health. For the past two year,s the center has produced state-by-state report cards regarding how each area addresses the concern regarding the most vulnerable citizens, children from low-income homes. The 2010 evaluation released in 2011 (http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/initiatives_detail.aspx?initiativeID=85899359680), indicates that all the bad states received a C letter grade for their efforts. That grade indicates that each area only achieved half the benchmarks the Pew Center has laid out regarding dental public health policies and efforts.
Some northerners were introduced to the city Biloxi, Mississippi thanks to Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical play and movie entitled Biloxi Blues and the current state of local dental health still makes that title relevant for citizens. Statistics indicated that Biloxi, MS is the nation's number one spot for bad teeth. According to the source, Biloxi is "... no. 51 in dentists per capita, no. 52 ... in dental visits, no. 51 in exercise, and no. 49 in fruit and vegetable consumption. As if that weren't enough, it's also no. 7 in teeth loss and the third smokiest city in America." Those factors are compounded by local public policies targeting dental health.
Those statistics backed by the state's C letter grade from the Pew Center indicates that out of the eight possible steps and policies Mississippi could take in order to improve the dental health of its residents only half have been put into place. On the positive side, within Mississippi, 45.5 percent of Medicaid enrolled children received the dental care they needed in the study data year (national average 38.1), local Medicaid dental care providers were reimbursed 61.9 percent of their retail fees for implementing dental treatment (national average 60.5 percent), medical providers are paid for implementing preventative dentistry and the state successfully keeps statistics on children's dental care.
However, the state is failing to provide enough citizens access to fluoridated water, do not have enough high-risk schools participating in dental sealant programs, do not allow dental hygienists to place dental sealants without oversight of a licensed dentist or has authorized a new type of dental care provider such as a dental therapist to assist in the dentist shortage. All those shortcomings are obstacles that have helped created the perfect "worst teeth" storm.