Panel of Experts Outline Steps for Improving Oral Health for US Hispanics
Posted on July 26, 2012
BOCA RATON, July 24, 2011 – The Hispanic Dental Association Foundation (HDAF), together with Crest and Oral-B, convened a roundtable of leading dental professionals, oral health researchers, and policy makers to discuss why US Hispanics, one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations,1 lags behind other Americans in many aspects of oral health. Participants identified clear goals to break down the barriers that currently prevent Hispanics from maximizing oral health services in their local communities. The roundtable discussion took place during the Hispanic Dental Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting, which is part of amulticultural oral health summit in Boca Raton, FL.
The discussion explored eye-opening findings from a 2011 survey led by the HDAF and sponsored by Crest and Oral-B. Of note, the survey found that the majority of US Hispanics believe more information about good oral health habits, access to affordable oral healthcare, and more Hispanic and Spanish-speaking dentists and dental hygienistsin their communities would help them “a lot” in achieving better oral health.2
“The survey was a critical starting point for raising awareness of the gaps in oral health knowledge and access to care among US Hispanics. Now is the time to face these challenges head on,” said Sarita Arteaga, DMD, MAGD and spokesperson for the HDAF. “The experts agreed that while dental professionals may serve on the front line of oral health care, it is up to the entire community to take a more activerole to ensure Hispanics have meaningful short- and long-term access to good oral care and education.”
To address Hispanics’ barriers and knowledge gaps, the roundtable participants identified the following priorities:
- Close the communication gaps between dental professionals and medical practitioners through continuing education programs and open dialogues at relevant meetings and professional conventions.
- Educate patients on the consequences of poor oral hygiene and the benefits of home care and prevention by creating culturally relevant learning opportunities through community gathering centers.
- Identify local ambassadors to amplify the oral health message and serve as the coachin their community’s oral health routine.
The HDAF, Crest and Oral-B will be making a donation to the Caridad Center on behalf of roundtable participants for their work to improve the state of oral health among US Hispanics. The Caridad Center is a free dental clinic serving Palm Beach County’s underprivileged population including local Hispanic families.
The survey which prompted the roundtable, “Hispanics Open Up About Oral Health Care,” was conducted in 2011 among 1,000 Hispanic adults and 1,000 adults from the general population aged 18 and older who live in the continental US Highlights from this research include:
- When asked if cavities will go away on their own if you brush regularly, almost one-third of Hispanics (30%) responded that they believe this statement is true or did not know the answer, when in fact the statement is false. About half or more Hispanics also incorrectly answered true/false statements or were uncertain about the importance of brushing versus flossing, whetherbleeding is normal during brushing, and if mouthwash provides oral health benefits beyond just freshening breath.
- Nearly one in five (18%) Hispanics have not visited the dentist at all in the past two years, compared to 12 percent of the general population.
- Approximately six in 10 Hispanics feel that a higher representation of Spanish-speaking and Hispanic dentists/hygienists in their community would help them “a lot” in achieving and maintaining better oral health.2
1. U.S. Census as of July 1, 2010.
2. GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, Hispanic Dental Association, Crest and Oral-B. “Hispanics Open Up About Oral Health Care.” 2011.