Oral health is a crucial component of overall health. Oral health is not just about having a good smile with shining teeth but extends far beyond it; it enhances the overall health and wellbeing of an individual. The status of gums and teeth reflects someone’s general health condition and is an important part of healthcare.
Despite the high incidence of oral diseases among populations, there is no universal access to dental care, with many individuals and families struggling to get the oral health care they need. Racial discrimination and socioeconomic conditions are two main factors contributing to oral health disparities and impacting equitable oral care provision. Low-income levels, health inequities and social determinants of health (SDOHs) influence an individual’s access to oral health. Dental care is the top unmet health need among low-income groups and older individuals.
Many communities struggle to have the same health resources that benefit others, which contributes to disparities and health inequities for Black and Hispanic populations in the United States. A report by CareQuest Institue for Oral Health reflects the health inequities among people of color compared to whites. SDOHs—the factors in a person’s lived environment that contribute to their overall health, such as income—also shape individual’s oral health care and access. Expanding coverage options for all Utahns, including those who receive healthcare through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is an important step to reduce oral health inequities in our community. Oral health equity can be achieved through the combined efforts of providers, policymakers, advocacy groups, and patients.