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America's Worst Teeth: 1800Dentist.com

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.

Biloxi, Mississippi

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.


Huntington, West Virginia

Situated along the banks of the Ohio River is Huntington, West Virginia the westernmost city in state. The area was first founded in 1870 by railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington and since that time, the city has experienced its ups and downs. According to TrueBeauty.com, dental health is in a downward spiral as West Virginia is the number one state for tooth loss, and number 47 for dental clinic visits. Plus, since Huntington is the number one smokiest city in America, and the high prevalence of tobacco use is further compounding dental problems for locals.

Aside from those factors, West Virginia residents residing in Huntington are only getting average efforts from local public policies surrounding dental health. The lackluster C ranking from the Pew Center is attributed that within West Virginia and the City of Huntington, patients need to see a dentist prior to getting dental sealants applied by a dental hygienist, doctors are not paid for providing preventive dental treatments, no type of new dental practitioner has been approved to address the local shortage and West Virginia fails to keep track of children's dental health statistics at all.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama is the state's only major port and largest populated city located near the Gulf. Unfortunately, the Mobile is also ranked as the nations' fifth smokiest city, fourth for quantity of missing teeth, number 48 for dentists per capita and number 47 in individuals who exercise regularly.

Those factors combined with the fact that the local dental health policies do not ensure that enough high-risk schools participate in dental sealant programs, that statewide dental hygienists are prevented from applying dental sealants without a prior dentist exam, that Medicaid providers only receive a reimbursement rate of 53.6 percent for their efforts and that no new dental care providers have been authorized to address the local dental shortage is compounding the issues.

Individuals have the power to combat and overcome the stigma of living in a city with America's worst teeth by dedicating efforts to dental care. For less than $10, individuals can dramatically improve their dental health by following oral hygiene behaviors of brushing and flossing daily to lower levels of dental plaque. Some behaviors such as drinking tap water instead of soda and walking instead of driving or taking a bus everywhere can save money and contribute to improved dental health.

The money saved from cutting all the listed expenses can be banked and directed towards paying for professional dentist visits. Individuals who need to find a dentist in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia or anywhere else can count on 1-800-DENTIST to assist in the task.

 
 
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