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Open Access Dental Visits Mediate the Impact of Smoking on Oral Health

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

Objectives: We explored the mediational relationships among smoking, dental visits, and oral health in a longitudinal study. Methods: We selected a sample of adult residents of rural communities of North Central Florida and followed them for 3 years (final N = 1170). We examined the impact of smoking on oral health across time and conducted mediation analysis to quantify the effect of dental visits on the relationship between smoking and poor oral health. Results: Our results showed that oral health declined across time for smokers but not for nonsmokers. The mediation analysis found that 18.3% of the difference in followup oral health between smokers and non-smokers was explained by smokers not having any dental visits in the last year. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, given the low success rate of quitting smoking, promoting dental visits can help limit the negative effects of smoking on oral health. Future community prevention studies could encourage dental visits among smokers and provide educational materials that aim to increase knowledge of oral self-care.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA 2: Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA 3: Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA 4: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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