Childhood IQ predicts age-38 oral disease experience and service-use.
Given that people with higher intelligence have been shown to live longer, enjoy better health and have more favourable health behaviours, we investigated the association between childhood IQ and a range of important dental health and service-use indicators at age 38.
Long-standing prospective study of a complete birth cohort, with childhood IQ (assessed at ages 7, 9, 11 and 13 years) used to allocate participants (N = 818) to one of four ordinal categories of childhood IQ.
There were distinct and consistent gradients by childhood IQ in almost all of the dental caries experience measures (with the exception of filled teeth) whereby each was most severe in the lowest child IQ category and least severe in the highest; the exception was the mean FT score, for which there was no discernible gradient. Indicators of self-care and periodontal disease experience showed similar gradients, and multivariate modelling using the continuous IQ score confirmed the observed patterns.
Childhood cognitive function is a key determinant of oral health and dental service-use by midlife, with those of lower cognitive capacity as children likely to have poorer oral health, less favourable oral health-related beliefs, and more detrimental self-care and dental visiting practices by age 38. There is a need to shape dental clinical services and public health interventions so that people with the poorest cognitive function do not continue to be disadvantaged.
Thomson, WM; Broadbent, JM; Caspi, A; Poulton, R; Moffitt, TE
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