The Disparity of Oral Health Among International Communities


Reducing the prevalence of oral illness among racial and ethnic minority communities is a persistent problem for the oral health field. The connection between oral and systemic health further complicates an already difficult situation. Disparities in children’s oral health by race and ethnicity are some of the most glaring and long-lasting. The reasons for racial/ethnic differences in oral health have not been fully addressed, even though oral health disparities have been frequently characterized and acknowledged as relevant.

The reason that prompted this research is the prevalence of oral health complications among most international communities. This literature review intends to evaluate the racial and ethnic differences in oral health that exists among international nations and states. Results from this review will be vital in understanding the efforts that nations are putting in place to combat the spread of oral health diseases in the community.

The organization of this review will follow a well-structured analysis that will first involve the evaluation of key sources and organizing them based on their key themes. This will then be followed by a deep analysis that will provide insight into the correlation that exists between the disparities in oral health in international countries and the wider subject area of disparities in health in the said countries. The review will then move from the wider perspective of the analysis of health in these countries into reviewing the specific topic of disparities in oral health in international countries.

There have been several studies that have used multilevel analysis to solely focus on the roles that community-level factors play in providing solutions to the disparities that exist in oral health. However, there has been no study that has focused on analyzing how this disparities are brought about by aspects such as race and ethnicity. However, this study will evaluate how oral health disparities are evidenced in international communities where minorities exist.


According to a study conducted by Valencia et al. 2012, it was revealed that there exists disparities that affect racial and ethnic minorities who are majorly Latino children. Based on the survey, which sought to understand the roles that Latino acculturation plays in dental care services, the study revealed that race and ethnicity disparities were largely linked with the provision of dental health care services especially to the less advantaged groups of Latinos.

Previous dental check-ups for minorities in the US were largely based on the brushing habits of the children, children’s age, dental health rating, family income, and dental insurance status. These factors formed the basis for provision of the dental health care services to the children and thereby making most of the Latino children to be excluded from the services. However, there have been policy recommendations that have been set up to address this disparity in oral health for the less advantaged groups of Latino children.

In another similar study involving kindergarten students by Matsuo et al. (2015), the researchers aimed at examining how racial and ethnic disparities play a role in determining the provision of services to kindergarten students. The research which involved students from North Carolina aimed at understanding how the dental carried medication is provided to the students based on their race, ethnicity, and poverty status. It was revealed that the prevalence of dental caries in North Carolina was about 30.4% for whites, 51.7% for Hispanic students, and 39% for blacks. There was also a significant difference in dental carries experiences between the white and black students in schools with NSLP participation. The study also revealed that dental carry effects were worse among Hispanic and Black students than it was for white students. The research also discovered that the disparity between black and white students was much wider in middle-class schools than in low-income ones, indicating that racial/ethnic disparities in oral health exist regardless of a school’s financial situation.

A study by Behar-Horenstein et al. (2017) on addressing the prevalent oral health disparities based on educational foci revealed a significant relationship between the provision of oral health care and the minority population. According to the study, the less advantaged populations are always faced with a lack of access to oral health care services due to their race and ethnicity. It was also found that there exists increasing evidence that links systemic and oral health yet oral health is poorly accessible to people of color. The study also revealed that the US has profound cases of oral health disparities with the affected groups being the racial and ethnic minorities despite their geographic location, educational attainment levels, and socioeconomic status. Many obstacles stand in the way of dental educators as they try to raise their students’ consciousness about oral health inequalities.


In conclusion, this literature review has shown that there exist profound levels of disparities in oral health in international countries. These disparities are based on aspects such as race, ethnicity, educational levels, and poverty status. Additionally, it has been shown that the minorities such as blacks, Latinos, and Hispanics are the largely affected populations. Currently, it seems that this situation is even worsening with the increased cases of disparities in other sectors of the economy thereby suggesting a need for a proper solution. However, there exist some research gaps as most of the research has only focused on concepts of race, ethnicity, and poverty levels thereby living other aspects aside. There will be a need for future studies on aspects such as culture, geographical locations, and educational attainment levels and how they are linked with the disparities in oral health provisions.


Behar-Horenstein, L. S., Warren, R. C., Dodd, V. J., & Catalanotto, F. A. (2017). Addressing oral health disparities via educational foci on cultural competence. American journal of public health, 107(S1), S18-S23. Web.

Matsuo, G., Rozier, R. G., & Kranz, A. M. (2015). Dental caries: racial and ethnic disparities among North Carolina kindergarten students. American journal of public health, 105(12), 2503-2509. Web.

Valencia, A., Damiano, P., Qian, F., Warren, J. J., Weber-Gasparoni, K., & Jones, M. (2012). Racial and ethnic disparities in utilization of dental services among children in Iowa: the Latino experience. American journal of public health, 102(12), 2352-2359. Web.

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