Simon, A., Cage, J., Akinkugbe, A. A.
This study investigated the cross-sectional associations between exposure to nine Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and U.S. children’s and adolescent’s oral health outcomes. Data from 41,294 participants of the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) were analyzed. Past year exposure to ACE, oral health outcomes (decayed teeth, bleeding gums, and condition of the teeth), and child and caregiver sociodemographic factors were self-reported. Using SAS v. 9.4, propensity score weighted, multilevel survey-logistic regression estimated adjusted odds ratios (AORs) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CIs) of the proposed associations. The overall mean (SE) age was 8.9 (0.1) years with 51% being male. Fifty-four percent (54%) identified as non-Hispanic white, and 12% as non-Hispanic black. The prevalence of the nine ACE measures ranged from 3% for caregiver death to 25% for financial hardship and parental divorce. Children who experienced caregiver mental illness, when compared to those who did not, were more likely to report decayed teeth (AOR: 1.73 (95% CI: 1.24, 2.42)) and the condition of their teeth as fair/poor (AOR: 1.60, 95% CI: 0.61, 4.19). Children in households with financial hardship were about twice as likely to report dental caries (AOR: 1.85, 95% CI: 1.50, 2.29) and have fair/poor teeth (AOR: 1.87, 95% CI: 1.40, 2.51) and bleeding gums (AOR: 2.39, 95% CI: 1.48, 3.86). ACEs appear to be associated with worse oral health outcomes among children and adolescents. Nevertheless, the cross-sectional nature of this study precludes a causal interpretation of these findings and necessitates more research to elucidate the oral health impacts of exposure to ACEs in longitudinal follow-up studies.