General Facts


Activity sheets: Activities for the Whole Family

Oral Health Equity

Health equity is defined as attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires: valuing everyone equally, focusing on societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, addressing contemporary injustices, eliminating health and healthcare disparities, and assuring structural and personal conditions are in place to support optimal health.[3] However, oral health has been left out of public health and healthcare dialogue, including conversations on health equity and social justice.

Related Articles: State Of Reform: Oral Health Is Improving For many Washington Kids, But Disparities Remain

Studies: A Community-Based Oral Public Health Approach to Promote Health Equity

Reports: Oral Health America: A State Of Decay

Webinars: A Framework for Advancing Oral Health Equity

Coalition: Oral Health Equity: Building Coalitions to Tackle Disparities

References:[1] Adapted from Healthy People 2020 and Dr. Camara Jones

Race/ Ethnicity, Income And Oral Health

Historically certain minority or disadvantaged population groups based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, income, and education level have suffered from poor oral health and health outcomes. Such disparities are indicative of systemic issues that continue to affect the most vulnerable groups of the population, and what has been achieved or supported in addressing and/or eliminating these barriers. Public health programs, and professionals have made significant progress on general physical health, supported by creating and sustaining an evidence-based, data-driven culture across all levels of the system. Unfortunately, oral health has been a neglected issue in these efforts mainly due to historical injustices, unfavorable public policies, and politically and socially unjust climates, lack of useful, relevant, and local data about oral health-creating gaps in services that support or sustain improved oral health. For equitable oral health outcomes to be possible a data-driven, evidence-based ecosystem for eliminating oral health disparities is essential.

Related articles:

Studies: Socioeconomic And Racial/Ethnic Oral Health Disparities Among US Older Adults: Oral Health Quality Of Life And Dentition

Access And Disparities

In 2006, about 60% of children in low-income families had no dental visit in the past year, compared with only 40% of children in higher-income families.[5] The low percentage of people who receive regular dental care is troubling. According to the CDC, most oral diseases are avoidable, with the timely administration of preventive care.5 Failure to address oral health with timely preventive care may result in costly visits to hospital emergency rooms, especially for children in low-income households.[6]

There are many contributing factors to this disparity. Identifying dental providers who accept Medicaid and other public dental insurance can be difficult. Transportation and finding participating providers are significant barriers for low-income and rural populations. In addition, lack of understanding and emphasis on the importance of oral health and oral healthcare by individuals and health professionals can be a significant barrier to accessing such care.

Related Articles:

Studies: Geography Matters: State-Level Variation In Children’s Oral Health Care Access And Oral Health Status

Behaviors And Oral Health Equity

Reports: A Framework For Implementing Sustainable Oral Health Promotion Interventions

Systematic Reviews: A Systematic Review of Oral Health Behavior Research in American Adolescents

Fact-sheets and Charts: