Addressing dental barriers at North Philadelphia Community Health Fair

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It’s no secret that many dental colleges in the US are primarily based in underserved areas. On this method, there’s a mutually helpful state of affairs the place college students have higher alternatives to recruit sufferers and members of the neighborhood have higher entry to dental care. These days, many dental colleges have built-in community-based outreach into their packages the place dental college students present dental care instantly at neighborhood websites. 

As dental college students on the College of Pennsylvania Faculty of Dental Medication in Philadelphia, we wished to get extra concerned within the North Philadelphia neighborhood, a identified underprivileged space. To do that, we created the First Annual North Philly Group Well being Honest, introduced by the Institute for the Improvement of African American Youth (IDAAY), with a view to tackle boundaries to care locally.

As a part of the well being truthful, which was held in October 2021, we offered provides for and staffed a dental training and assets desk, the place we additionally administered an IRB-approved survey (initially created by the Heart for Well being Workforce Research at SUNY Albany Faculty of Public Well being) on oral well being data, and boundaries to and facilitators of accessing oral well being companies. As such, we have been in a position to achieve data on this inhabitants.

The survey respondents (attendees of the well being truthful) have been primarily Black or African American, per the demographics of the realm. All knowledge have been analyzed utilizing descriptive statistics. To get an concept of the oral well being consciousness of the respondents, a collection of true/false questions was introduced.

Though there have been no unanimously right responses or overwhelming majorities, some statements did have the vast majority of right solutions, comparable to 75% agreeing that “some medicines can have an effect on the well being of your mouth.” Different statements have been cut up evenly; half of the respondents believed “child enamel aren’t that vital as a result of they don’t keep in your baby’s mouth very lengthy.” 

Within the subsequent part, respondents unanimously agreed that they worth protecting their mouths wholesome, and almost 88% agreed that common visits to the dentist would hold them wholesome. In step with this, 92% say they brush their enamel not less than as soon as per day. Alternatively, 46% say they clear between their enamel (for instance utilizing dental floss or a toothpick) solely as soon as or much less per week. Sadly, virtually 53% of respondents reported that, within the final yr, they wanted dental care however couldn’t get it. The wants have been various, starting from needing a cleansing to needing ache aid or enamel extracted. The highest three choices they stated would assist them see a dentist extra typically included: extra dentists of their space, extra handy workplace hours and having dental insurance coverage.

Because of the precise and perceived boundaries that these respondents face, a lot of them are getting suboptimal or no dental care. Over half of respondents reported they don’t have a specific dentist they usually see in the event that they want dental care. Most of our respondents lack a dental residence, having nowhere to go once they want oral care. Precisely half of respondents subjectively describe the situation of their mouth and enamel as truthful or poor, and fewer than 16% of respondents subjectively describe the situation of their mouth and enamel as superb or wonderful. 

This preliminary examine offers us some perception into the view of oral well being care within the North Philadelphia neighborhood and lets us brainstorm potential methods this info can be utilized to implement packages to assist members of this neighborhood attain their oral well being objectives. It’s clear that many respondents worth their mouths, however their lack of standard dental care is protecting them from attaining optimum oral well being. As future dentists, we acknowledge that this is a vital concern that wants addressing, and it’s our precedence to take motion now.

~Chelsea Wiener and Brooke Talsania, Pennsylvania ’23



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