Many U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 may be on track to let poor oral health hurt their overall physical health.
Researchers have published figures hinting at that future in a survey of 1,200 U.S. residents ages 18 to 64 commissioned by a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, and a second survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers age 18 and older commissioned by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York.
Recent academic studies have shown that poorly controlled gum disease seems to correlate with a high rate of premature birth as well as a higher rate of severe health problems among individuals with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists have suggested the organisms that cause gum disease may contribute to medical problems elsewhere in the body, and some dental insurers have responded by offering extra coverage for teeth cleanings to pregnant plan members and plan members with serious health problems.
About 85% of the MetLife survey participants and 89% of the Guardian survey participants said they believe that there is a connection between oral health and overall health.
But the MetLife study researchers found that participants ages 18 to 34 seem to have particularly poor oral health.
Figures comparing the oral health of consumers in the 18-34 age group with the oral health of consumers in the 18-34 age group in an earlier time period were not immediately available.