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All people need to know the importance of maintaining proper dental health, and a language barrier shouldn't get in the way of that. According to WebMD, an estimated 50 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English in their homes, and 22 million of them only speak limited English. The medical news source added that these individuals may have a difficult time communicating their healthcare needs to providers, and it could also prevent them from receiving important information about healthcare that is only provided in English.
While WebMD was referencing issues in the medical industry that could arise as a result of language barriers, there are also implications within the dental health community. For example, according to a 2011 survey conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, many U.S. Hispanics who speak Spanish want more information on good oral health habits and access to affordable dental care. This survey also found that Hispanics had many misconceptions about dental health.
For example, 30 percent responded that they believed that cavities would go away on their own with regular brushing. Also, 65 percent said that they had experienced at least one dental problem in the past year, compared to 53 percent of the general population of the U.S.
"I had an 'aha' moment when we began to look at the statistic that 30 percent of respondents thought they could brush away cavities," said researcher Ivan Lugo, D.M.D. "These myths give us a picture of how much Hispanics need more oral health prevention knowledge. They not only lack good information, they also tend to pass on erroneous information to their children, friends and neighbors."
A new plan in place
In response to the dental care issues facing Hispanics, Colgate-Palmolive recently partnered with the Hispanic Dental Association to launch an Oral Health Month campaign in July. The goal of this is to help educate Hispanics about important dental health matters and to ensure that they have all of the resources they need to establish a proper dental care routine.
"At Colgate, we care about improving oral health among Hispanic Americans. Our Oral Health Month campaign allows us to promote the practice of healthy oral care habits," said Carla Kelly, general manager of U.S. Multicultural Marketing at Colgate-Palmolive, in a statement. "By continuing our partnership with the HDA, we are able to leverage our mutual expertise and resources to reach these communities with the encouragement and information they need."
The HDA explained that an estimated 40 percent of Hispanic adults have dental health issues that have not been addressed. This is nearly double the rate of non-Hispanic white adults in America. Furthermore, twice as many Hispanic children have untreated cavities, compared to non-Hispanic white children.
Also, more Hispanics are uninsured in the U.S. than any other demographic, which may keep them from getting their dental needs met. This is why Hispanics should look into discount dental plans to help them gain access to dentists who can treat their issues regardless of whether they have insurance. Dental plans act the same as traditional insurance - meaning they help people access care for a reduced cost - but they are often less expensive than insurance plans and can be used immediately after they are purchased, so there is no waiting period like there could be with insurance.
During this campaign, Colgate-Palmolive and the HDA will distribute bilingual information regarding oral care to Hispanic communities, and work to ensure that all Hispanic children get screenings to make sure their teeth are healthy. The goal of these measures is to not only help Hispanics gain access to resources regarding dental care, but help them adopt proper dental health habits.
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