Dentist practice.
The analysis focuses on dental care. Photo: u_165b5hiuva — Pixabay.

New report explores the health disparities facing Hispanic communities in the U.S.

It points out several key policies that can improve oral health and reduce the gap in care.


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The Hispanic Dental Association (HDA), in partnership with CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, recently published a comprehensive technical report on oral health disparities in Hispanic communities.

Addressing the Oral Health Needs of Hispanics in the U.S.” is the name of this report that outlines various strategies to improve oral health and reduce inequalities in access to care services among U.S. Hispanics.

Kaz Rafia, CareQuest Institute Chief Health Equity Officer and executive vice president, DDS, MBA, MPH, stated through a press release:

To effectively address health inequities among Hispanic populations, we need to understand the unique barriers they face in accessing care.

About the Study

The report, which was based on the findings of various surveys, was produced in collaboration with more than 60 experts, who represent public health, dentistry, and academia, and who worked on recommendations to benefit Hispanic communities.

“It’s also critical that those most impacted by disparities are included in those conversations and solutions. We are grateful to the HDA for their work on this important report that offers actionable insights on how we can work together to improve the health and well-being of Hispanic people across our country,” added Rafia. 

The technical report takes into account the history of Hispanics in the U.S., analyzes the utilization of dental services, evaluates the Hispanic representation within the dental workforce, and makes recommendations for policy changes that can improve the general health and the quality of life of this community in the U.S.

Figures of Interest

“It is the first time in American history that we have national research revealing the oral health disparities that Hispanics and other racial/minority groups face,” said Martha Mutis, president-elect and chair of the Research Initiative at the Hispanic Dental Association, DDS, MPH, EdD, FICD.

These are some key findings: 

  • Hispanic people reported higher percentages of being treated for gum disease than other racial/ethnic groups, especially in the 35–49-year-old age group.
  • Hispanic children aged 6–11 years had the highest prevalence of decayed and filled teeth compared to other children in that age group.
  • The prevalence of losing at least one permanent tooth was higher for Hispanic adults compared to white, non-Hispanic adults.
  • Approximately 15% of Hispanic adults aged 65 or over had no teeth.
  • Hispanic people were more likely to report the status of their teeth and gums as “fair” or “poor” compared to non-Hispanic individuals in most age groups.
  • Hispanic dentists represent 6% of the total national dentists’ workforce, 10.7% of dental hygienists, 30.4% of dental assistants, and 19.8% of dental laboratory technicians.

New Policies

Policy recommendations from the technical report:

  • Improve the collection and disaggregation of data to better understand disparities, especially among Hispanic subgroups.
  • Provide more oral health education, especially for parents and children.
  • Increase community-friendly access dental care opportunities, such as mobile and school-based dental services, in communities with high proportions of undocumented persons.
  • Build more career pathway programs for minority students going into dental careers and more cultural competency training for dentists.

“The publication offers valuable recommendations for advocacy at federal, state, and local levels to improve access, quality, and coverage in oral health for minority and underserved populations,” underscored Mutis.


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