Addressing Oral Health Disparities Via Educational Foci on Cultural Competence

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An ever-present challenge for the oral health profession is to reduce the extent of oral disease among racial and ethnic minority populations. Adding to this complex dilemma is the linkage between oral health and systemic health.

We describe enhanced cultural competency, in the context of individual cultural beliefs, values, language, practice, and health behaviors, among dental professionals, as one approach to meeting the dental care needs of the underserved. An overview and examples of teaching methods used by University of Florida dental educators to enhance student cultural competency is provided.

Evidence-based evaluation results provide evidence of methodology efficacy. We conclude by describing actions that can be implemented by academic dental institutions to facilitate development of culturally competent practitioners.

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