We encourage you to discuss the importance of oral health with your patients. Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus (Empire) has a focus on addressing disparities with oral health within our community.  Liberty Dental* is available to meet with providers to discuss oral health and provide telehealth dental options and materials to assist with speaking to patients:

Addressing disparities within oral health

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, a leading nonprofit whose focus on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system, released new data on ethnic and racial disparities in oral health. CareQuest completed their second national survey, The State of Oral Health Equity in America. The survey focused on four areas within the oral health field that adults may come across. These areas are knowledge, attitudes, experience, and behavioral that all relate to receiving oral health care.

CareQuest Institute research shows:

  • African American and Hispanics report than they have never been to a dentist, which is 3x higher than Caucasian respondents.
  • 52% of Hispanic adults are more likely than Caucasian adults to have more difficulty to complete their job duties due to poor oral care.
  • African American adults are 68% more likely to have unmet oral needs than Caucasian adults.
  • Within the African American, Hispanic, and low-income population 45% of adults have lost 1 or more permanent teeth due to decay or gum disease.
  • When looking at loss of 6 or more teeth:
    • 16% of African American adults
    • 12 % of Caucasian adults
    • Hispanic (9%)
    • Asian (3%)
  • African American adults were at least 2.5 times more likely than Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian adults to have visited a hospital emergency department for dental care.1
 

The connection between oral health and mental health

CareQuest Institute has also linked poor oral health to mental health findings within The State of Oral Health Equity in America survey:

  • Almost one out of five respondents rated their current mental health status as fair or poor.
  • Adults who stated they had poor mental health status also had unmet oral health needs:
    • 34% Toothache
    • 30% Swollen or bleeding gums
    • 25% Pain when chewing
    • 25% Frequent dry mouth
  • These same adults who had poor mental health were prescribed opioids for a problem with their teeth at a higher rate.
    • 18% African American
    • 10% Caucasian
    • 8% Asian
    • 7% Hispanic2

 

Additional information on oral health can be located on the New York State, Department of Health website: https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/members/member_factsheets.htm

 

Sources:

1 Growing Inequities in Oral Health Care (2021), https://www.carequest.org/topics/health-equity

2 Research Brief: The Connection Between Oral Health and Mental Health (2021), https://www.carequest.org/resource-library/connection-between-oral-health-and-mental-health

 

If you have questions, visit the Contact Us section at the bottom of our provider website (https://providerpublic.empireblue.com) for up-to-date contact information or call Provider Services at 800-450-8753.

 

* Liberty Dental is an independent company providing dental benefit management services on behalf of Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus.

 

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Featured In:
December 2022 Newsletter