DISPARITIES IN ACCESS TO PRIMARY DENTAL CARE: A SYSTEMIC REVIEW
by Christopher Huang
Category: Social Sciences
Abstract – Primary dental care is essential for the maintenance of health and wellbeing. Aside from maintaining the state of teeth for matters of appearance, primary dental care prevents the development of more severe health issues down the line. Furthermore, dental conditions are generally more relatively preventable, compared to other conditions that have chronic effects on health. This further highlights the importance of access to primary dental care. However, in America, numerous barriers exist in attaining a level of care needed for the prevention of dental conditions. Socioeconomic disparities account for a large barrier to care, as the cost of dental visits surpasses the perceived value of the visit for some patients. Geographic barriers also limit access if there are transportation or distance issues. Furthermore, examination of demographic factors including race, gender, and educational attainment reveal more trends in access and use of primary dental care services. In addition, the interactions of these factors and considerations of intersectionality are crucial in obtaining a clear picture of dental disparities. This paper seeks to address the question: “How do differences and interactions between socioeconomic, geographic, and other demographic variables affect access to primary dental care?” By examining existing disparities and their root causes, insight can be gleaned about possible ways to coordinate more targeted public health action to minimize these differences and expand access to primary dental care.