Oral health plays a vital role in overall health status and has been linked to chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, yet it is often overlooked as a critical health issue. For Californians, education, where people live, race/ethnicity, age, English language proficiency, immigration status, low income, and other determinants of oral health can play a significant role in oral health status.
On June 21, 2021, Nadereh Pourat, PhD, UCLA CHPR associate director and director of the HEER Program, walked through findings from several studies she's conducted on factors that contribute to or improve disparities in oral health status and access to dental care. For example, 39% of Californians reported having fair or poor oral health status and 41% reported not having visited the dentist in the past year, according to one of the studies that uses 2019 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data. A heightened demand for services and a short supply of dentists who see Medi-Cal patients also play a role in why low-income California adults are having difficulties in meeting their dental care needs.