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June 22, 2022
CareQuest Institute Releases New Data on Inequities in Oral Health Care
June 22, 2022 (Boston, MA) — CareQuest Institute for Oral Health® released new data on inequities in oral health care from the second annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey in a webinar last week. According to the survey, 77 million adults in the US do not have dental insurance, and disparities in oral health exist for many populations, including people of color, low-income or uninsured people, and veterans.
The State of Oral Health Equity in America survey created by CareQuest Institute is a nationally representative survey of 5,682 adults to study knowledge, attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to oral health.
“We created this survey to better understand the disparities in oral health,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA, president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. “These newly released findings give additional insight into the many barriers facing historically underserved populations and will help inform our ongoing work to address inequities in our oral health care system.”
This new data was released during a virtual discussion, “How’s America’s Oral Health? Barriers to Care, Common Problems, and Ongoing Inequity,” based on the survey results and attended by more than 300 people.
“This survey is the most comprehensive of its kind and the results validate the inequities we already knew exist in oral health,” said Ifetayo B. Johnson, Executive Director of The Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN), who was a panelist during the virtual discussion. “We look forward to working with CareQuest Institute and our other partners to use those findings to implement systemic change and break the cycle of oral health disparities.”
The new survey results show the challenges many populations face related to oral health, including:
Black, Hispanic, and Asian Populations Face Disparities in Oral Health
● Higher proportions of Asian (49%), Hispanic (49%), and Black (48%) populations reported experiencing discrimination in oral health care compared to their white counterparts (33%).
● Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of Black adults have lost one or more permanent teeth due to decay or gum disease compared to 45% of all adults.
● Higher proportions of Black (34%) and Hispanic (25%) adults rate their oral health as fair or poor compared to white adults (23%).
● 32% of Black adults and 30% of Hispanic adults report at least moderate difficulty getting care for oral pain, compared to 21% of white adults.
Oral Health Disparities Exist Due Lack of Dental Insurance:
● 77 million adults do not currently have dental insurance (29.8%).
● 3x more adults lack dental insurance than health insurance.
● 1 in 4 (25.1%) people without dental insurance reported that their overall health has gotten worse over the past year compared to those with dental insurance (19.9%).
Oral Health Inequities Persist for Veterans
● 14% of veterans reported losing 6 or more teeth due to decay or gum disease, compared to 8% of non-veterans.
● 6% of veterans reported losing all their teeth due to decay or gum disease, compared to 3% of non-veterans.
● Nearly half (49%) of veterans reported that a disability in their household made it difficult to access needed care compared to non-veterans (19.9%)
Disparities in Oral Health Status Exist by Income
● More than twice the proportion of Americans in the lowest income category (13%) compared to those in the highest category (5%) rate their oral health as poor.
● About 1 in 4 (24%) of adults who make less than $30,000 are often embarrassed or self-conscious of their mouth, compared to 8% of adults who make more than $100,000.
● 29% of adults who make less than $30,000 report delaying care due to COVID-19, compared to 19% of adults who make more than $100,000.
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About CareQuest Institute for Oral Health®
CareQuest Institute for Oral Health® is a national nonprofit championing a more equitable future where every person can reach their full potential through excellent health. We do this through our work in grantmaking, research, health improvement programs, policy and advocacy, and education as well as our leadership in dental benefits and innovation advancements. We collaborate with thought leaders, health care providers, patients, and local, state, and federal stakeholders, to accelerate oral health care transformation and create a system designed for everyone. To learn more, visit carequest.org and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.