Mitchell Merrill, Brigham Young University
An examination of the perceptions of U.S. dentistÛªs regarding the quality of Hispanic oral health in the United States. This thesis investigates both the dentistÛªs potential for making positive change and the challenges that stand in their way in improving the state of Hispanic oral health. Twelve dentists were spoken with by phone to discuss three main questions. Those chosen for the calls practice in the top ten states with the highest percentage of Hispanics. An analysis was conducted of the recorded calls that consisted of comparing each response with patient demographics, practice location and years of experience. Responses were categorized and analyzed numerically in graphs to study trends and patterns. Patient education and pro bono dental work were the top two most frequently mentioned responses regarding how dentists can improve Hispanic oral health. They were also the top two most mentioned responses regarding the difficulties dentistÛªs face in making a positive difference. 66% of dentists thought that Hispanic oral health was not ÛÏworse than the general U.S. populationÛ while 33% thought that Hispanic oral health was worse. Given the divided responses, the perception amongst dentists about Hispanic oral health quality in the U.S. varies greatly. This suggests that many oral healthcare professionals are likely unaware or incorrectly informed of the demographics that are most struggling. This identifies the need to make sure dentists across the U.S. stay better educated on issues of race, ethnicity and culture within the world of oral health.