Coco's Blog

Friday, 18 November 2011 06:32

New Survey on Hispanic Oral Health

Written by Coco
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Did you know that 67% of U.S. Hispanics rate their overall oral health as “excellent”or “good”...yet two-thirds experienced at least one oral health issue in the past year?

I am going to admit that I am part of the group who has experienced at least one oral health issue in the past year - Ok, make that two...

Crest LogoA recent national survey led by the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and sponsored by Crest and Oral-B found that, when compared to the general population, many Hispanics in the U.S. are facing barriers to achieving better oral health. Specifically, the majority of U.S. Hispanics believe more information about good oral health habits, access to affordable oral health care, and more Hispanic and Spanish-speaking dentists and dental hygienists in their communities would help them in achieving better oral health.  The highlights of the survey are outlined in the images below.

HDA surveyHDA Survey

HDA Survey

I really appreciate these findings, mostly because taking care of my oral health has only become a priority in recent years. Growing up, understanding the importance of taking care of my teeth fell a good deal upon myself.  It's not that my parents didn't care about my oral health, it just wasn't a priority. I am pretty confident it's because it wasn't very important in their childhood either.  They simply grew up in a small town in Mexico where oral health was not a priority, their town didn't even have a dentist!

HDA Surevy

The survey data that most struck me, however, was on the barriers keeping Hispanics from receiving good oral health care - knowledge gaps, high cost, and language/cultural differences. I can totally relate to these barriers and agree with the resources suggested to helping improve good oral health - they are highlighted in the image to the left.

As the oldest child of immigrant Spanish speaking parents, I was the family translator. When I was 14 my mother decided that I needed braces – yes, she made that call, not the dentist – and it was up to me to find the orthodontist. I was used to calling the health and dental insurance companies to obtain coverage information for my parents.  Once I knew how the insurance coverage would work for braces I checked if a recommended orthodontist was on our list of approved providers. The recommended orthodontist, by the way, was the same dentist who had done many of my cousins' braces, so we skipped actually seeing the dentist for a referral - it was cheaper.  Once I saw the orthodontist, I asked all the important questions for my mom, since I spoke English and she did not and I, of course, filled out all the paperwork.

After my braces came off, I went to work for my orthodontist part time.  I helped with simple clerical tasks around the office, but one of my main responsibilities was to translate for Spanish speaking clients.  He always said that he wished he spoke Spanish because he could better serve his patients.  I was fortunate that my parents had dental insurance for our family.  All 4 kids in my family eventually had braces - my dad jokes that our smiles are worth a fortune!  However, even with dental insurance my parents choose to see dentists in Mexico for their oral health care because 1. it was very inexpensive and 2. they could communicate in Spanish with the dentist.

So, what do we do? I firmly believe that we all have a part in improving the state of oral health.  While there are so many issues raised in this survey that need attention, I believe that eating a well-balanced diet can help in this quest.


  • Healthy food is not only good for your overall health, but it's important for your oral health.  Eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups.
  • Limit sugary drinks, especially in children.  Young children should really only drink juice on a limited basis, focus instead on giving them milk and water.
  • Avoid food with a high sugar content, especially sticky candy.  It's not only good for your waistline, but your teeth too!
  • Drink plenty of water.


To read more information on the study please click here.

Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in a compensated campaign with Procter & Gamble and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Last modified on Saturday, 19 November 2011 08:56


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