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The Prevalence of Periodontal Disease among Children and Adolescents: Biological and Social Indicators

Presenters: Autumn Gray
Advisor: Zeynep Benderlioglu Co-Advisor: Binnaz Leblebicioglu


Autumn Gray in front of research poster at Denman Forum

Although preventive dentistry has greatly improved over time, dental caries and periodontal disease continue to negatively affect pediatric populations. A wide range of biosocial factors play an important role in dental development and subsequent oral health in early life. One such factor is the birth order. Because periodontal disease has an infectious origin and the order in which a child was born in a given family dictates the time of exposure to common infections, this study aimed to examine the relationships among birth order, dental development, and oral disease. Several other factors, such as household environment, income, parental education, and attitudes were also considered. Data are currently being collected at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Dental Clinic patients (mean age: 9 years, range: 4-16). In addition to surveys on socioeconomic indicators, interviews with clinicians are also being conducted to record oral health problems and dentition patterns. I predict that when household income, parental education, and attitudes toward oral hygiene are kept constant, a high birth order will yield better oral health in children and adolescents. Previous research findings on the positive effect of the number of siblings on enhanced immunity constitutes the basis of my prediction. A preliminary descriptive analysis of my data show that 60% of subjects were diagnosed with gingivitis. Thirty-five percent of subjects had obvious plaque accumulation, whereas another 35% had systemic health issues. The high level of oral and systemic health problems was consistent with the relatively low median household income, which ranged between $ 15,000-$ 29,000/year. This study may help better understand the unique socioeconomic and biological factors leading to poor oral health in children and provide more insight on effective and preventative oral health care.