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Social Gradients in Dental Health among Low-Income Mothers and their Young Children


For low-income mothers of children aged 3-6 years, we estimate whether social gradients exist between mothers' income, education, and employment status and mothers' perceptions of self and child dental and general health, and whether these relationships differ by racial/ethnic group. Disproportionate stratified sampling by racial/ethnic group selected 10,909 eligible children aged 3 to 6 in Medicaid in Washington State. Mothers (n=4,373) completed a mixed-mode (web, mail, telephone) survey. Mothers' education had a strong, gradient relationship with mother ratings of self and child dental health that was not explained by other measures. Similar gradients were found for mothers' employment status and income, but some associations were no longer significant (p>.05) after adjusting for oral health beliefs and behaviors, dental insurance, and regular dental care. Associations did not differ significantly by racial/ethnic group.