Knowledge of oral health, acculturation and use of oral health services among a Hispanic and Latino population

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J Dent Hyg. 2021 Oct; 95 (5): 22-31.


Goal: Health disparities in the United States (US) are widespread, particularly among racial and ethnic minority populations. The aim of this study was to assess whether knowledge and acculturation of oral health care was associated with the use of oral health services among the Latino and Hispanic population of Massachusetts.Methods : A cross-sectional survey research design was used with a convenience sample of Hispanic or Latino adults (n = 315) residing in Massachusetts. The survey consisted of three validated instruments: the New Oral Health Literacy Tool for Public Health, the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute survey, and the Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (SASH) survey. Oral health use was assessed using descriptive statistics, relationships between variables were assessed using t-tests.Results: The survey had a response rate of 73% (n = 230). Participants with dental insurance had a higher average number of correct answers on oral health knowledge compared to those without insurance (p= 0.003). Women and participants who were married or in a civil union had a higher mean knowledge score. Participants with dental insurance were more likely to have visited the dentist in the past 12 months and have a dental office compared to those without (pp= 0.03), without dental insurance (p= 0.01), without a dental visit during the last 12 months (p= 0.05), and for those who do not intend to visit the dentist in the next 12 months (p= 0.01).Conclusion: Improving access to affordable dental coverage, promoting the creation of a dental home, encouraging cultural sensitivity within the dental team and providing resources for those with limited English proficiency could improve use oral health services among Latin American and Hispanic populations.


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