Behavioral Risk Factors and Oral Health

It has been found that as socioeconomic status increases, the incidence of disease, illness, and their impacts decrease (Reisine, 1009).  Specifically, large disparities exist for differences in oral health.  Socioeconomic status is usually measured by “income, education, or occupational prestige that offer advantages to individuals and families” (Reisine, 1009).  Some base it on the neighborhood that one lives.

The frequency of tooth-brushing, dental check-ups, and the consumption of sweets and soft drinks affect dental health ( Ylöstalo, 195).  It is recommended by dentists to brush teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride daily to prevent tooth decay.  Dental check-ups are encouraged every six months.  In some households, baking soda is used for tooth-brushing.  Although it is inexpensive, it does not contain fluoride.

Oral infections and cardiovascular diseases have common biological and behavioral risk factors such as poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.  The health of one’s mouth affects the health of the rest of the body. The process of digestion begins in the mouth.

“Psychosocial determinants could act as a link between general health behavior and dental health behavior” (Ylöstalo, 194).  Consistency, control, self-worth, life satisfaction, and optimism have been linked to several health outcomes (Ylöstalo, 194).  For example, people that are optimistic tend to recover better from illnesses.

In conclusion, the connections between oral and general diseases are because of unhealthy habits; they can result from a person’s socioeconomic status and lifestyle.  These unhealthy behaviors are risk factors for overall health.


Reinsine, Susan T. and Walter Psoter. (2001, October).  Socioeconomic Status and Selected           Behavioral Determinants as Risk actors for Dental Caries. Journal of Dental Education, 1009-1015.

Ylöstalo. P.V., Ek, E., Laitinen, J., and M.L. Knuuttila. (2003). Optimism and Life Satisfaction as Determinants for Dental and General Health Behavior-Oral Health Habits Linked to Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Journal of Dental Research, 82(3): 194-199.

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