The April issue of Men's Health magazine tackles teeth – the best and worst of them in the United States. The magazine looks at 100 cities across the U.S. and rates them according to information taken from the CDC and research conducted by a private marketing firm. You can see all of the information at http://www.menshealth.com/metrogrades/08_apr_teeth/
The author of the article, Denny Watkins, recently sat down with Kevin Henry, the managing editor of Dental Economics, to talk about the article and some of his findings.
Kevin Henry: So tell me a little bit about the Metrogrades section of Men's Health, the section where this article appears.
Denny Watkins: We run it every month and always focus on some health metric. We've looked at skin cancer, obesity, alcohol consumption, and other topics.
KH: What surprised you about your findings for the April article on teeth?
DW: It surprised me the amount of variance in how often people visit the dentist. The CDC does a report on the percentage of people who visit the dentist at least once a year. It ranges from 81 percent to 57 percent, and the low number was Lubbock, Texas, which we found has the worst teeth in the nation. Some of the city's low rankings have to do with the socioeconomic climate, but that's not the only reason that people don't go to the dentist or take care of their teeth. It's hard to say why people don't take care of their teeth. Even in cities like Los Angeles, where the perception is that the population is fixated on appearance, L.A. ranked No. 90 in our survey.
KH: Do your readers understand the importance of their teeth, not only in terms of appearance but also in overall health?
DW: Absolutely. People understand the importance of a smile. Many people use a smile to judge who might be a good father or mother for his or her future child, or they think that a good smile indicates good health, meaning that person will be around to an old age. Our readers make that connection between the smile and overall health all the time.
KH: Could the lower rankings for some cities simply be attributed to a higher fear of the dentist in those areas?
DW: Well, we do know that some of our readers are still squeamish about seeing the dentist … ever. Some men are afraid to go see any kind of doctor. Some think they're invincible, and some simply don't want to admit they have a problem. I've written articles before on dental-related issues, and I know there are things out there like laser dentistry that can help make a trip to the dentist easier.
KH: Anything surprise you about the top-rated cities?
DW: Honestly, Madison (Wisconsin) always does well in our studies. It seems to be a city that cares very much about its overall health.