|My son with his money-saving pearly whites|
As a mom, I feel that I’ve done a pretty good job of raising our oldest kid so far. He clears his dish before leaving the table, he helps to put away the dishes and he has fabulous teeth. Seriously… he has these seemingly-perfect pearly whites that I still don’t have, even after Invisalign. So when I read the findings of a recent survey lead by the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and sponsored by Crest and Oral-B, I was astonished to find that we could very well be in the minority with regards to Hispanics and dental health.
Overall Survey Results
67% of U.S. Hispanics rate their overall oral health as “excellent”or “good”…yet two-thirds experienced at least one oral health issue in the past year.
The survey found that when compared to the general population, many Hispanics in the U.S. are facing barriers to achieving better oral health. Specifically, the majority of U.S. Hispanics believe more information about good oral health habits, access to affordable oral health care, and more Hispanic and Spanish-speaking dentists and dental hygienists in their communities would help them in achieving better oral health.
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised to see that such a disparity exists between the state of oral health among U.S. Hispanics versus the general population. In fact, I myself don’t remember my family focusing too much on oral health beyond brushing our teeth. Braces were seen as a luxury and something that although I needed them, we just couldn’t afford. I also found out the importance of flossing the hard way – with a dentist visit that ended with me getting three root canals. That’s right parents – three!
As an adult, and a parent, I am now more conscious about how I treat my teeth as well as my son’s. Thanks to great oral hygiene, he is still cavity-free and though brushing his teeth isn’t his favorite thing to do, he will still happily accept a Waterpik session while standing on his Fisher-Price Step-with-Me Step Stool (which by the way, is a GREAT way to ensure that your kid has a two-minute tooth brushing).
In my humble opinion, the reason that so many Hispanics haven’t achieved great oral health is because there is a failure in educating parents on the importance of healthy teeth and gums and the consequences of not having good oral health. For example, did you know that some studies suggest that poor oral health may be linked to other health complications such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes? Now if that isn’t reason enough to start brushing and flossing, then I don’t know what is. However, the reason I know this is because I read studies like this one and attend seminars that educate me on the proper way to achieve good oral health. Perhaps more exposure on this topic would help bring this issue to light in the Hispanic community.