Interdisciplinary Approaches to Promote Adolescents' Oral Health and Reduce Disparities

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Promote Adolescents' Oral Health and Reduce Disparities

Adolescents—particularly those from low-income and racial/ethnic minority groups—exhibit a higher occurrence of dental caries and other oral diseases than younger children. This initiative supports interdisciplinary research to identify the unique causal factors and develop strategies to improve adolescents' oral health and reduce health disparities within the context of overall health promotion.

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FULL DESCRIPTION

Data over the past three decades have shown that, while the occurrence of dental caries has declined in pre-school aged children, it has remained largely unchanged in adolescents. Furthermore, underserved low-income and racial/ethnic minority adolescents continue to experience a higher occurrence of oral disease than their higher-income and non-minority counterparts. Adolescent behaviors can increase the risk of future oral diseases, such as dental caries, oral cancer, and periodontal disease. Therefore, the goal of this initiative is to improve the oral health of adolescents and reduce observed health disparities and inequities. Potential research areas include: common disease risk factors such as diet/nutrition, Human papillomavirus (HPV) exposure, and tobacco use (including E-cigarettes); individual and societal factors in primary healthcare facilities, schools, and/or community-based settings; novel technology-based approaches; and the role of family and peers in influencing adolescent oral health behaviors and risk factors. Identifying the unique risk factors and multi-level determinants of adolescent oral health and disparities will help stimulate scientific advances and guide the development of strategies to improve the oral health of adolescents.

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