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Childhood Trauma Linked to Tooth Loss Later in Life

Children who experience trauma early in life may be at greater risk for tooth loss in their older years, 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.

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Children who experience trauma early in life may be at greater risk for tooth loss in their older years, 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 postdoctoral 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 age 50 and older 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 experienced adverse events throughout life.

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