Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Dentistry



First Advisor

Tegwyn Brickhouse, DDS, PhD

Second Advisor

Caroline K. Carrico, PhD

Third Advisor

Carol Caudil, DDS

Fourth Advisor

Jayarakumar Jayaraman, B.D.S., M.D.S., F.D.S.R.C.S., M.S., Ph.D.


Purpose: The aim of this analysis of survey data was to assess the influence of living within a food desert as a predictor of oral health problems among children of East Henrico County, Virginia.

Methods: Survey participants were recruited and questionnaires applied online. Residing in a food desert, using access to affordable produce as a proxy value, was the independent variable, while self- reported assessment of the child’s oral health status was the primary outcome variable. Analyses controlled for other indirect factors of pediatric oral health. Logistic regression was used to model the association between the self-reported access to healthy fruits and vegetables and history of dental pain for the child.

Results: A significant association between a child experiencing recent dental pain and: a child having a dental visit within the last 12 months; the child’s ethnicity; and the guardian’s education level. An association approaching statistical significance was identified between access to affordable produce and experiencing dental pain (p-value=.0504). At the community level, those that lived in food deserts had 2.22 times increased odds of reporting dental pain for a child than those considered to not live in food deserts.

Conclusion: A moderate association was found between access to affordable produce and experiencing dental pain. Additional randomized, population-based studies would be beneficial to improve our understanding of this association.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission