Teenagers are eating out at dental clinics that open only on weekends, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley examined more than 1.2 million students at four different public dental clinics.
They found that students who ate out in the clinics on Saturdays and Sundays were less likely to have dental work done on their teeth.
Dr Susan L. Schulz, one of the study’s authors, said the study was “the first to document a statistically significant relationship between students’ visits to open clinics and dental work, suggesting that these students were not taking care.”
The study’s findings, published online Monday in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, also showed that students’ rates of brushing their teeth had been lower than students’ dental work rates, suggesting the clinics had less dental care available.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Researchers were not able to say if the difference in brushing rates was attributable to different clinics or if students’ dentist visits were associated with their dental work.
In some cases, the study found, students who visited the clinics were less satisfied with their dentists’ work than students who didn’t.
Researchers also noted that students with less dental work also tended to have fewer visits to the clinics, and students who did more dental work tended to visit the clinics more often.
Dr Schulz said the results of the new study suggest that students may not have taken care of the dental work they did.
Dr. Lora Hochberg, a research professor at the School of Dentistry at the New York University School of Medicine and the study author, said it was important to know what students are eating for dinner at a given clinic.
“If students don’t take care of themselves and their teeth, it’s hard to make the connection that there’s any effect of dental work,” Dr Hochburg said.