The Norman Transcript

Local news

June 17, 2013

State ranks poorly in dental health

NORMAN — Removing teeth is routine for dentist Randi Hobbs. At least once a month, she removes a full set of decayed teeth and replaces them with dentures.

Hobbs works at Arbuckle Dental in Sulphur, where many patients come in with long-neglected teeth and severe pain. Some have come straight from the emergency room. Many are in need of teeth extraction because they “wait until it gets bad,” Hobbs said.

“They’re usually malnourished, they’re sick, they’re already in pain,” she said. “We’re trying to get them out of pain.”

The problems Hobbs sees are pervasive in Oklahoma, which ranks among the worst in the nation on key measures of oral and dental health.

Among those indicators, tracked in regular surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

· Oklahoma ranked last among all states and the District of Columbia in 2010 in percentage of adults who visited a dentist or a dental clinic in the previous year. About six in 10 Oklahoma adults went to the dentist.

· The state ranked sixth worst in percentage of adults aged 65 and older whose natural teeth had been extracted. The share was 25 percent.

· About six in 10 third-grade students in school year 2009-2010 had tooth decay, or cavities. Close to a fourth of third graders had untreated cavities.

The reasons for Oklahoma’s poor dental health are tied to some of the same reasons cited for its poor overall health. But with dental care, some of the key numbers are more extreme.

One example is lack of insurance. About 17 percent of Oklahomans have no health insurance, but a much larger share of residents, about 50 percent, don’t have dental insurance, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Health official. Jana Winfree, chief of dental health services at the health department, said many jobs don’t come with dental insurance and many workers can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for dental work. Even simple procedures can cost hundreds of dollars.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • Injury accident reported

    Transcript Staff Emergency crews responded to an injury accident around 10:20 p.m. Sunday in the 1000 block of 80th Avenue Southeast where there were reports of someone pinned. Several reports indicated a vehicle struck a tree causing one ...

    July 28, 2014

  • Migrant kids go to Mass

    The services have all the elements of a typical Sunday Mass — singing, scripture, a sermon, prayers, communion and worship....

    July 27, 2014

  • Prisons expand reach to bring training to more officers

    McALESTER — Joshua Drake once was offered the chance to be a corrections officer but turned it down because he didn’t want to leave his wife and aging parents for six weeks to train hundreds of miles away in El Reno....

    July 27, 2014

  • Storm victims face loan dilemma

    The tornadoes, flooding and hail that struck Oklahoma last year left hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, causing many home and business owners to seek help in the form of low-interest federal loans....

    July 27, 2014

  • Norman North teen struck by freight train recovering with therapy

    A Norman North teen struck by a freight train in May is on the road to recovery and ready to get back to school after spending most of his summer in a hospital. Harrison Braddy, 16, has been staying busy with rehab and physical therapy ...

    July 27, 2014

  • SWIMMER Aquatic center could serve many community needs

    Michael Yoch could have been the kid with asthma sitting on the sidelines — could have been, but wasn’t. Michael had trouble running because of his asthma, which made it difficult to play soccer and many other sports his friends loved. ...

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Director leaves decade of memories

    Maureen Dolan is giving up the post as director of St. Joseph’s Early Childhood Development Center, fondly called “St. Joe’s” by the many parents whose pre-school children have spent their weekdays under her care over the past 10 years....

    July 27, 2014

  • Teen critical after rescue

    A 17-year-old Yukon male was transported to the hospital Sunday after a near drowning incident at Lake Thunderbird in the Party Cove area. Emergency crews responded to the lake after a report of a possible drowning around 5:30 p.m. ...

    July 27, 2014

  • County wreck fatal

    A Purcell man was killed in a single-vehicle wreck Saturday morning on Highway 77, north of Moffatt Road in Cleveland County. Keith Hedrick, 20, was pinned for about an hour and 45 minutes before the Slaughterville Fire Department was ...

    July 27, 2014

  • New library leaders

    The Pioneer Library System has familiar faces taking over leadership roles with its two hometown libraries....

    July 27, 2014