Family Affair: A Snapshot of Oral Health Disparities and Challenges in Individuals in Households Experiencing Disability

Published 12/07/2022

Individuals in households experiencing disability rate their oral health as fair or poor at higher rates (38%) than those not in households experiencing disability (23%), according to a report from CareQuest Institute. The report analyzes data from the annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey and confirms the persistent disparities and challenges in accessing oral health for those with intellectual or physical disabilities.

Individuals in households experiencing disabilities:

  • visit the dentist less frequently — 32.6% had not visited a dentist in 2 or more years compared to 19.7% in households not experiencing disability.
  • are more frequently denied health care or oral health care due to discrimination — more than half (52.8%) compared to 36.9% in households not experiencing disability.
  • are twice as likely to experience high dental anxiety (21.8%) compared to households not experiencing disability (10.6%).
  • visit the ED for dental care or pain 3 times more often (9.0%) compared to households not experiencing disability (3.1%).

Individuals with a disability have long had higher prevalence and severity of oral disease than the general population. In 2019, the Commission on Dental Accreditation responded to recommendations by the National Council on Disability and set a requirement for dental schools to train their students in the treatment of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This report reinforces the need to improve access to high-quality care for individuals in households experiencing disability.

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