KOHC is committed to improving the outcomes for all by ensuring equitable access and representation in oral health. We do this by looking at available data to establish the current landscape, identify disparities in oral health, and develop solutions to reduce these disparities. Additionally, we convene oral health advocates and stakeholders to help us advocate for policies that advance oral health in the Commonwealth.
The American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute recently published a series of infographics that examine racial disparities in oral health nationwide. This recent research indicates that there are racial disparities present throughout the oral health system including factors like cost barriers to accessing care, utilization of dental care, and the racial makeup of the dentist workforce.
Findings indicate that although dental care use has increased overtime for children and seniors, adult dental care use remains the same. Overall, dental care use is highest among Whites and Asians and lower among the Black and Hispanic populations. In addition, Blacks and Hispanics are the most likely to experience cost barriers to accessing dental care across all age groups. Across all races, cost is the main barrier to accessing dental care in the US.
We also see disparities in the racial and ethnic mix of dentists in the US workforce. Black and Hispanic dentists are significantly underrepresented when compared to the overall US population while White and Asian dentists are overrepresented. There is also evidence that career choices made by dentists are influenced by race – Black dentists are the most likely to accept Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Program coverage.
In the coming months KOHC will be gathering insight from members on policy priorities for the 2022 legislative session and we look to our members to think about solutions that address the oral health and racial disparities. We look forward to hearing from our members about policy priorities and solutions!