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Income Disparities Widen the Gap in Oral Health of California Adults

November 30, 2020

Policy Brief

Authors: Nadereh Pourat, Ph.D., Maria Ditter, Dr.med., M.P.H.

Summary: Social determinants of health are increasingly acknowledged as barriers to improving population health, particularly among people who experience multiple disadvantages, such as low income and poor health. Evidence indicates that socioeconomic and environmental factors play a similar role in oral health status. Using data from the 2017 and 2018 California Health Interview Surveys (CHIS), authors explored the association of these factors with poor oral health among California adults. 

Findings: Author analyses confirmed that most of the factors studied were associated with poor oral health, and that adults with the lowest income experienced greater disparities. Findings indicate the need for multifaceted and systemic interventions that include promoting oral health education and oral health literacy and expanding access to oral health care for adults. Findings also indicate the need for assessment of oral health status through screening tools for nondental health care providers and organizations, and subsequent delivery of patient-centered services that address the needs of the whole person.


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