Access to oral health care: Not a level playing field

Baltimore, MarylandPublic-health policy-makers are increasingly concerned about the fact that, even with all the progress in oral health care, there are many groups who simply do not have access to it, and their oral and general health is suffering as a result.

At the 83rd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, convening today at the Baltimore Convention Center, research groups from ten institutions will report on various studies designed to solve the problems of oral health disparities--everything from treatment for Medicaid-eligible children, to the role of sugared beverages in tooth decay, to the connection between pregnancy and tooth loss, to the role of insurance in whether children get sealants and subsequent restorations.

All of the studies concluded that disparities in access are largely related to socio-economic status, race, gender, and age, and that the most successful strategy for improving access is via assessments of oral health, environment, behavior, microbiology, and genes within the family.

Much of the research was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and is based on data gathered in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).


Contact: Linda T. Hemphill
International & American Association for Dental Research

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