P&G-sponsored survey unveils gaps in oral health knowledge, access to care among U.S. Hispanics

SAN DIEGO — The majority of Hispanics in the United States believe that 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 "a lot" in achieving better oral health. That’s according to the findings of a national survey led by the Hispanic Dental Association and sponsored by Procter & Gamble brands Crest and Oral-B.

The survey examined U.S. Hispanics' perceptions and attitudes about oral health care, barriers toward achieving good oral health and the role of influencers in passing along oral health habits. The survey, "Hispanics Open Up About Oral Health Care," is part of an initiative by the HDA, Crest and Oral-B to raise the profile of the state of oral health among Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority group in the country, representing 16% of the total U.S. population.

The survey was conducted among 1,000 Hispanic adults and 1,000 adults from the general population ages 18 years and older who live in the continental United States.

The survey found that knowledge gaps (oral health literacy), high cost (access to affordable care and insurance) and language/culture differences (Hispanic/Spanish-speaking dental health professionals) are barriers to many Hispanics in achieving good oral health. Specifically, the results found:

  • When asked if cavities will go away on their own if you brush regularly, almost one-third of Hispanics (30%) responded that they believe this statement is true or did not know the answer, when in fact the statement is false;

  • About half or more Hispanics also incorrectly answered true/false statements or were uncertain about the importance of brushing versus flossing, whether bleeding is normal during brushing and if mouthwash provides oral health benefits beyond just freshening breath;

  • Close to half (45%) of Hispanics lacked dental insurance and nearly 1-out-of-5 (18%) have not visited the dentist at all in the past two years, compared with 12% of the general population; and

  • Approximately 6-out-of-10 Hispanics believed that a higher representation of Spanish-speaking and Hispanic dentists/hygienists in their community would help them "a lot" in achieving and maintaining better oral health.

Other survey findings included:

  • While most Hispanics, as well as the general population, rated their overall oral health as excellent or good, Hispanics experience more oral health problems;

  • 65% of Hispanics said they experienced at least one oral health issue in the past year, versus 53% of the general population. For more than one-third of Hispanics (36%), oral health problems experienced in the past year were severe enough to impact their daily activities, compared with 22% of the general population;

  • Among Hispanic parents, many of these same knowledge gaps exist, as does the desire for more oral health information. Yet, 8-out-of-10 Hispanic parents (82%) considered themselves an excellent or a good source for teaching their children about oral health habits; and

  • Aside from their dentist, Hispanics rely mostly on their parents and physician for oral health education and information.

As a first step following the survey, the HDA, Crest and Oral-B have collaborated on an informational brochure highlighting key facts and debunking top misperceptions about oral care that will be placed in dental offices and other public areas nationwide.

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