Barriers to achieving good oral and overall health do not stop with access to care. Systemic racism exists within healthcare, is linked to several social determinants of health, and contributes to racial inequities in oral health. Multi-level interventions that focuses on system change to advance racial equity can improve population-level health.

This report highlights several policy changes that target systemic racism in order to improve access to dental care and reduce oral health inequities.

What next?

  • Policy: Incorporate dental benefits into Medicare coverage; among Medicare beneficiaries, Black and Hispanic older adults have higher rates of not having an annual dental visit compared to White older adults.
  • Clinical: Integrate medical and dental electronic records to ensure timely referrals and coordinated care for patients.
  • Academic: Center research development, implementation, and evaluation around communities of color to develop interventions that appropriately address barriers to care related to systemic racism.
  • Community: Support educational programs in dental and other health-related fields for communities of color; this encourages a diverse workforce that represents the communities they serve.

Oral Health Equity Cannot Be Achieved Without Racial Equity

E. Fleming, J. Burgette, H. Lee, J. Buscemi, P. Smith
Health Affairs
April 2022