Children who experience trauma early in life may be at greater risk for tooth loss later in life, according to a University of Michigan (U-M) study. The paper, “A Life Course Approach to Total Tooth Loss: Testing the Sensitive Period, Accumulation, and Social Mobility Models in the Health and Retirement Study,” appears in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.
Haena Lee, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research, used participants’ oral health information from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and their childhood experiences, adult educational attainment, and poverty status from past HRS surveys, as well as 2015 supplemental survey data. Examining records of those who experienced early trauma, she reports more than 13% of adults over age 50 had lost all of their permanent teeth. In addition, nearly 30% of study respondents experienced financial hardship, or had lost their parents or experienced a parental divorce by age 16. Beyond this, 10% of respondents had experienced physical abuse, and 20% had lived in poverty at least once.
After controlling for adult socioeconomic status, diabetes, and lung disease, Lee’s analysis of the long-term impact of childhood trauma on edentulism determined that older adults are at higher risk of total tooth loss if they have consistently experienced adverse events throughout life.