Oral Health and the Minority Community
The healthcare system in the United States is a bit different from most other countries. In Europe, for example, most countries’ healthcare systems are nationalized and there is little or no out-of-pocket expense for patients. This eliminates many barriers to healthcare and makes it affordable and accessible to almost everyone.
In the United States the healthcare system is run by our free market economy. Everything from pricing to the location doctors and hospitals choose to conduct business, is determined by the market. Patients from affluent areas tend to have more access to healthcare, while poorer areas, largely populated by minorities, tend to have less access. Because of this tendency, barriers may arise and disparities take root in each of the fifty states, including New Jersey. These disparities have a disproportionately devastating effect on the minority community, and oral health is one of the medical disciplines that has become part of the healthcare disparity conversation in New Jersey and across the country.
Medical science, which has already determined that minorities are up to seven times more likely to suffer from such diseases and conditions as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, low birth-weight and premature babies and oral cancer, continues to unveil links between our oral health and the these conditions. So, if minorities are much more likely to suffer from these diseases and conditions, it stands to reason that a greater emphasis should be placed on their oral health care as a way to better manage overall health.
It is recommended that if one suffers from any of the aforementioned diseases or conditions that they should see their dentist regularly. The dentist is an important member of the healthcare team that helps with the management and treatment of certain diseases and conditions. Often, dentists diagnose some diseases, such as oral cancer and diabetes, even before physicians can.
If you don’t have a dentist, please use our Find-A-Dentist search to locate a general dentist or dental specialist in your area. You can search by city, zip code, specialty and even language spoken.
Additionally, for more information about minorities and healthcare, you can go to the website of the NJ Office of Minority & Multicultural Health (OMMH). Here you will find a wealth of information geared towards helping people in these diverse communities live longer, healthier lives.
The NJDA is working with OMMH to reduce – and eventually eliminate – the gaps in health status between New Jersey’s minority and multicultural communities and the state as a whole.