New White Paper Explores the Health Disparities Hispanic Communities Face in the US

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health
CareQuest Institute


The Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and CareQuest Institute for Oral Health recently released a comprehensive white paper on oral health disparities in Hispanic communities. “Addressing the Oral Health Needs of Hispanics in the US” identifies several key policies that can improve oral health and reduce inequities among Hispanics in the US, which now represent nearly 19% of the total population.

white paper, CareQuest Institute for oral health

“To effectively address health inequities among Hispanic populations, we need to understand the unique barriers they face in accessing care,” said CareQuest Institute chief health equity officer and executive vice president, Kaz Rafia, DDS, MBA, MPH. “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.”

“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 president-elect and chair of the research initiative at the Hispanic Dental Association, Martha Mutis, DDS, MPH, EdD, FICD. “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.”

The authors engaged with over 60 experts representing public health, dentistry, and academia to analyze findings from multiple surveys and collaborate on recommendations to benefit Hispanic communities.

The white paper traces the history of Hispanics in the US, analyzes the utilization of dental services, evaluates Hispanic representation within the dental workforce, and makes recommendations for policy changes to improve overall health and quality of life for Hispanics.

Key findings include:

  • 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.

Policy recommendations from the white paper include:

  • 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.

Click here to read the full white paper.

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 philanthropy, analytics and data insights, health transformation, 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.

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