Nonprofit Urges Improvements in Dental Coverage to Reduce Health Disparities
CareQuest Institute for Oral Health® — a leading national nonprofit focused on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system — today released new data on racial and ethnic disparities in oral health care from its second annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey. The organization is advocating for improvements in dental coverage to reduce health disparities that can lead to significant consequences within and beyond oral health.
The State of Oral Health Equity in America survey is the largest nationally representative survey focused exclusively on adults’ knowledge, attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to oral health. That survey and other research from CareQuest Institute gathered in the past two years reveal the disproportionate impact of oral health disparities on Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native individuals.
“New insights from our survey confirm the stark reality that race and ethnicity are closely linked with the health of an individual’s mouth and their livelihood,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA, president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. “To eliminate these disparities and advance health equity, we must make dental coverage more available and accessible to everyone, including through Medicare and Medicaid.”
Key insights from the research include:
· Nearly 1 in 6 Black adults (16%) reported having lost at least six teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease. This degree of tooth loss is much higher than the proportions among adults who are white (12%), Hispanic (9%), or Asian (3%).
· Black (17%) and Hispanic (16%) adults were more likely than white adults (14%) to say they had felt “self-conscious or embarrassed because of [their] teeth, mouth, or dentures” either very often or fairly often over the past year.
· Black (9%), Asian (5%), and Hispanic (4%) adults were more likely than white adults (2%) to believe they “did not get a job” because of their teeth, mouth, or dentures.
· Black adults were at least 2.5 times more likely than white, Hispanic, or Asian adults to have visited a hospital emergency department for dental care.
The data also spotlight the economic and educational implications of these disparities, challenges for providers of color, and the importance of expanding oral health coverage through Medicaid and Medicare.