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Oral Health Challenges Facing the Dominican Community

New York City and its surrounding communities represents one of the most diverse areas in the US. And we should know: our practice has a Dominican dentist and a Georgian dentist (from the country of Georgia, not the state). Unfortunately, while New York does a good job of attracting people from around the world, it doesn’t always do a good job of providing for them.

Among the communities in New York that are facing oral health care challenges is the Dominican community, which represents a large portion of the Hispanic/Latino community in the city and state.

Oral Health Problems Abundant

Family enjoying a meal togetherStudies by New York State and the federal government highlight the challenges that the Latino community is facing in New York. Disparities in oral health start young. By third grade, Hispanic or Latino children have a much higher rate untreated cavities. About 55% of Latino 3rd graders have experienced cavities, compared to 52% of White 3rd graders without Latino backgrounds. But the disparity in untreated cavities is much larger, 37% for Latinos, compared to only 27% for whites.

This untreated decay ultimately leads to tooth loss. In 2004, about 56% of Latino adults age 35-44 had lost at least one tooth, an increase from 51% in 1999. This is a marked contrast to the White population, which had a tooth loss rate of 46% in 1999 that dropped to 35% in 2004.

Different segmentation of the federal data prevents a good comparison, but it does tell us that 63% of Dominican adults at all ages had at least one missing tooth.

An Unrepresentative Dental Profession

There are many obstacles to Dominicans getting the oral health care that they need. Language can represent a significant barrier. Socioeconomic status also makes it hard for many Latino communities to access dental care, but Dominicans are less likely than other Latinos to report cost as being a barrier.

Instead, it may be partly that Dominicans don’t feel they have a dentist they can go to who will really treat them like family (which so many dentists claim and dental patients desire). Although 18% of the population of New York State is Hispanic or Latino, only 4% of its dentists are. And with many outreaches to the Dominican community targeting children and those without the economic means for treatment, Dominican adults with resources might find themselves desiring to do something about their oral health, but not understanding that options like dental implants exist to help treat problems like missing teeth.

At Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown, we strive to make sure that people of all ethnicities feel welcome in our practice. Please call (914) 357-8112 today for an appointment with a Tarrytown cosmetic dentist.