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This article is part of the supplement: Biotechnology and Biomaterials to Reduce the Caries Epidemic

Open Access Highly Accessed Proceedings

Reducing Oral Health Disparities: A Focus on Social and Cultural Determinants

Donald L Patrick12*, Rosanna Shuk Yin Lee2, Michele Nucci3, David Grembowski123, Carol Zane Jolles4 and Peter Milgrom3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

2 Deparment of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

3 Northwest/Alaska Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities and School of Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

4 Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

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BMC Oral Health 2006, 6(Suppl 1):S4  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-6-S1-S4

Published: 15 June 2006

Abstract

Oral health is essential to the general health and well-being of individuals and the population. Yet significant oral health disparities persist in the U.S. population because of a web of influences that include complex cultural and social processes that affect both oral health and access to effective dental health care.

This paper introduces an organizing framework for addressing oral health disparities. We present and discuss how the multiple influences on oral health and oral health disparities operate using this framework. Interventions targeted at different causal pathways bring new directions and implications for research and policy in reducing oral health disparities.