UCLA report uncovers causes of dental care access disparities: 6 things to know

A June 21 report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research examines contributors to disparities in dental care access among Californians.

The study uses 2018 and 2019 data from the California Health Interview Survey.

Here are six things identified in the report:

  1. Certain parts of California have fewer dentists per capita than others.
  2. Approximately 79 percent of dentists in the state did not provide care to low-income patients who rely on Medi-Cal.
  3. Eight percent of California dentists are Latino or Black, compared to 60 percent of the state's overall low-income adult population.
  4. A dentist shortage may be near due to the percentage of dentists nearing retirement age compared with the percentage of recent dental school graduates. According to the report, approximately 23 percent of dentists are 60 years old or older, and only 9 percent of dentists graduated dental school within the past five years.
  5. Thirty-two percent of California residents are adults with incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Low-income residents were found to have poorer oral health and less access to oral healthcare.
  6. Thirty-nine percent of adults in the state described their oral health as "fair" or "poor," and 41 percent reported not seeing a dentist during the previous year.

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