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Low Income as a Multiplicative Risk Factor for Oral Pain and Dental Problems Among U.S. Veteran Smokers.

Hicks TA, Wilson SM, Thomas SP, Dennis PA, Neal JM, Calhoun PS. Low Income as a Multiplicative Risk Factor for Oral Pain and Dental Problems Among U.S. Veteran Smokers. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2018 Feb 1; 25(1):67-73.

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PURPOSE: Compared to the United States (U.S.) general population, military veterans are at an increased risk of experiencing dental problems. This study documented associations between cigarette use and measures of dental/oral concern in a population of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. METHOD: A cross-sectional analysis of survey data from the Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans Health and Needs Study, a study of U.S. military veterans. Out of 5000 surveys mailed to a random sample of OEF/OIF veterans, 1161 surveys were completed and returned. Among study respondents, N  =  1114 had non-missing dental/oral pain data and were included for analysis. The survey also included smoking history and demographic information. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to cross-sectionally model the odds of experiencing dental/oral concerns as a function of smoking status. We also examined moderating effects of income and gender on the association between smoking and dental/oral concerns. RESULTS: In univariate and multivariate models, current smoking was associated with risk for dental/oral concerns. However, this association was qualified by a Smoking × Income interaction. For those earning above US$20,000, smoking was not associated with dental/oral concerns. Among veterans with low income, smoking was associated with three times higher odds of increased dental/oral concerns. There was no significant Gender × Smoking interaction. CONCLUSION: These findings underscore the relevance of factors that moderate the association between smoking and dental/oral concern, namely income. Findings also underscore the importance of interventions to mitigate income disparities in oral healthcare.

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