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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Explore Associations between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Oral Health Among Children and Adolescents

Research led by Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, assistant professor of health services policy and management, and deputy director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, and research assistant professor Dr. Elizabeth Radcliff has examined the association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and oral health among children and adolescents. Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina also contributed to the study, which was published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.

With this study, the authors examined the relationship between preventive dental care and adverse childhood experience (ACEs) and the relationship between tooth decay and ACEs (while controlling for preventive dental care). They analyzed data from a cross-sectional sample of more than 33,000 respondents from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health – a representative sample of U.S. children.

The authors found that children with four or more ACEs were less likely to have a preventive dental visit and more likely to have tooth decay than their counterparts who had less than four ACEs. These children had lower odds of receiving dental visits than children with less than four ACEs. They were also more likely to have decayed teeth, despite whether they received preventive dental care.

The authors concluded that pediatricians, dental hygienists and dentists should be aware of how childhood trauma may hinder both caregivers and children from engaging in preventive oral health care or dental treatment. These findings can inform policies and programs to support children’s oral health through the identification and mitigation of childhood trauma.

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