Oral health equity
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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
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
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December 2022 Newsletter