Document Type




There has been limited examination of how community-level supports may influence oral health metrics among children. The purpose of our study is to examine the association between two types of community-level positive childhood experiences and oral healthcare and oral health outcomes among children ages 6 to 17 years of age.


This study uses a cross-sectional data set from the 2018–2019 National Survey of Children's Health. Two oral health metrics were used: preventive dental care, measured as one or more preventive dental visits in the past 12 months, and tooth decay, measured as tooth decay or cavities in the last 12 months. To quantify living in safe, stable, equitable environments, questions on residing in a safe and supportive neighborhood were used. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses were used to calculate frequencies, proportions, and unadjusted associations for each variable (n = 40,290). Multivariable logistic regression models were used.


In an adjusted analysis, children who lived in a supportive neighborhood had a higher likelihood of receiving a preventive dental visit than children who did not live in a supportive neighborhood (aOR 1.41; 95% CI 1.21–1.65). Children who lived in a safe neighborhood were less likely to have tooth decay than children who did not live in a safe neighborhood (aOR 0.75; 95% CI 0.65–0.86).


The findings from this study highlight the role of social structures in tightening the safety net for oral healthcare in children.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

Crouch, E., Nelson, J., Radcliff, E., Merrell, M. A., & Martin, A. (2022). Safe, supportive neighborhoods: Are they associated with childhood oral health? Journal of Public Health Dentistry.


© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Public Health Dentistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association of Public Health Dentistry.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.