How Healthy Are Hispanics’ Teeth? New Study Findings Holds the Answer

March 12, 2015 by No Comments

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It’s widely known that almost all Americans — 99.7% of the population — say an attractive smile can be a valuable social asset.

With minority populations expected to become the majority by 2042, according to the most recent U.S. Census findings, how does the dental health of minority groups such as the Hispanic-American population stack up?

New findings from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study (HCH/SOL) reveal key insights into the oral health of Hispanic and Latino populations — insights that may help dental hygienists treat Hispanic patients more effectively.

According to a March 9 Dentistry IQ article, the study examined the prevalence of dental conditions such as tooth decay, periodontal disease and tooth loss among Hispanic-Americans of various backgrounds. About 80% of the study’s subjects were born outside the United States; 77% of subjects indicated that Spanish was their preferred language.

Between 20.2% and 35.5% of those studied had untreated tooth decay, according to the study. The prevalence of tooth loss ranged between 49.8% and 63.9%, depending on the background of the individual studied, and 51% of Hispanics had periodontitis in some form.

Another interesting finding was that one’s dental health varied widely based on the individual’s country of origin.Dentistry IQ reports that Dominican-Americans had the lowest prevalence of gum disease, while Puerto Ricans were the most likely to have severe periodontitis.

For dental hygienists, these findings offer valuable insights to use while treating Hispanic-American patients, especially if one consults the full study’s exhaustive data and findings. The HCH/SOL, a multicenter study, collected data from six subgroups of the Hispanic-American population — this makes it the most diverse and comprehensive study of Hispanic dental health performed to date.

With the information revealed in the HCH/SOL, dentists and dental hygienists can gain a better understanding of cultural differences and establish constructive dialogues and programs that improve the dental health of Hispanics and Latinos. In addition, this study opens up doors for future studies that could provide even more information.

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