Do race and class affect dental care?

By staff writers

November 1, 2007 -- Race and economic stature play a key role in the quality of dental care a patient receives, according to a new study in the November issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

"Drawing from [an] evaluation [of data collected for the Florida Dental Care Study], we conducted research to determine if African Americans or lower-income individuals attend [dental] practices that are typically different from practices attended by their white or higher-income counterparts," said Gregg Gilbert, D.D.S., chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry and author of the paper in a press release.

Researchers discovered that dentists who cater mostly to black or lower income patients have busier practices with longer waiting times. These dentists are also less likely to discuss preventative care, certain diagnostic and treatment services, and alternatives to extraction with their patients.

Although the study was based on questionnaires answered by a small group of dentists, the authors feel these results resonate with other findings, and represent a nationwide trend.

Copyright © 2007

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