Poor oral health disproportionately affects low-income adults, who typically receive fewer oral health care services than those with higher incomes. This is particularly the case for those from racial and ethnic minority groups. Understanding the specific barriers that contribute to and perpetuate oral health inequities is essential to creating effective oral health programs and policies. These barriers range from individual factors such as low oral health literacy and the inability to take time off from work for dental care, to systemic factors that vary by state such as dental benefit coverage and limited provider availability. An oral health equity framework is a useful tool for ensuring that programs and policies consider the needs of disparate populations and have an equitable impact on oral health care access, quality, and outcomes.

This webinar, made possible by the DentaQuest Foundation, explored oral health disparities, their contributing factors, and a framework that may be used to design programs that advance oral health equity. The discussion featured insights from two organizations, Connecticut Oral Health Initiative and North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative, which recently took part in a CHCS learning collaborative focused on advancing oral health equity in their states.


I. Introduction and Overview of Oral Health Equity

Speaker: June Glover, Program Officer, CHCS

June provided an overview of oral health equity and reviewed a framework for improving the impact of oral health programs.

II. Perspectives from the Field: State Approaches to Advancing Oral Health Equity

Speakers: Mary Boudreau, Executive Director, Connecticut Oral Health Initiative; Zulayka Santiago, Director, North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative

Mary shared her experience with implementing programs to address oral health disparities in Connecticut, including initiatives on workforce policy and culturally competent services.

Zulayka described North Carolina’s process for developing an action plan to advance oral health equity, and highlighted opportunities and challenges.

Both speakers reflected on lessons and discussed how they have used the oral health equity framework to improve their program impact.