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Rep. Kelly Releases Landmark Report on Health Disparities, Including ADA-Authored Chapter on Oral Health

September 18, 2015

Contact Information:
Rhys Saunders
saundersr@ada.org
312.440.2582

CHICAGO —  The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Health Braintrust today released the 2015 Kelly Report on Health Disparities in America, which examines the causes and impact of health disparities among minorities. Compiled by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, who chairs the CBC Health Braintrust, the report includes a comprehensive set of legislative and policy recommendations to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes nationwide.

In the report’s chapter on oral health, American Dental Association President Maxine Feinberg, DDS, writes, “Although oral health in the United States has by many measures improved dramatically over the past 50 years, it still represents a significant public health issue, one that affects low-income and minority populations disproportionately.  The prevalence of preventable, untreated dental disease among racial and ethnic minority populations is unacceptable.  We as a nation must do better.”

Among the highlights of Dr. Feinberg’s chapter: 

  • Untreated dental disease disproportionately afflicts racial and ethnic minorities.  Forty-two percent of African American adults and 36 percent of Hispanic adults have untreated disease, as compared to the 22 percent of Caucasians.
  • Untreated tooth decay in primary teeth among children ages two to eight is twice as high for Hispanic and African American children, compared with Caucasian children.
  • While treating existing disease is critical, providing culturally competent oral health education and helping patients navigate an often daunting and confusing public health system are critical to helping families in underserved communities.
  • More minority dentists—practitioners, dental school faculty and students—are essential to reducing disparities.

Dr. Feinberg called for reforms at the state and federal levels, focusing on improvements to Medicaid coverage, the Action for Dental Health Act, which supports activities that improve oral health education and disease prevention, as well as increased support for federal agencies and services aimed at reducing oral disease among underserved populations.
 
Read the full report online.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 159,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org