Cost, Race, and the Persistent Challenges in Our Oral Health System

Published 06/28/2023

Results from CareQuest Institute’s 2023 State of Oral Health Equity in America annual survey show that oral health disparities persist in the US, and that discrimination and socioeconomic factors are two leading contributors.  

Oral Health Disparities Persist

Key findings, summarized in a research report, include: 

  • More than half of Black adults (52%) reported having lost one or more permanent teeth due to decay or gum disease, compared with 43% of all adults. 
  • Adults earning $100,000 or more a year were much more likely to rate their oral health as excellent, very good, or good (87%), compared with 60% of those making less than $30,000 per year.  
  • Homeownership was linked to higher rates of having a dental home, better self-rated oral health, and more regular dental visits, compared with renting or occupying a home without payment. 
  • Among adults with a disability, 14% said they had experienced discrimination in the dental setting, and 27% said they had been denied oral health care due to discrimination. 

The findings from this nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 adults emphasize the need to continue working toward an oral health care system that is more accessible, equitable, and integrated, including enhanced dental coverage for all adult Medicaid enrollees. 

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