A review of the oral health of individuals with disabilities in Puerto Rico and among U.S. Hispanics

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More than 51 million U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized residents have some form of long-lasting disability, including almost 1 million residents of Puerto Rico. The goal of this report is to review available data in an effort to stimulate recognition of the oral health needs of Puerto Rican residents with disabilities.The authors conducted a review using a series of U.S. Census Bureau reports to develop comparative relationships between Puerto Rican residents, the total U.S. population and the total U.S. Hispanic population. The review compared the proportion of these groups with disabilities, the proportion of the population who live below the poverty threshold, and oral health status.The review of available government and private agency data for the general population indicates that the percentage of Puerto Rican residents with disabilities is greater than the percentage of the total U.S. population and the total U.S. Hispanic population. In addition, compared to the total U.S. population, a greater percentage of total U.S. Hispanic children is living in poverty, has unmet dental needs, is uninsured for health services, and has not visited dentists for extended periods. Particularly limited information is available regarding the oral health needs and services for Puerto Rican residents with disabilities.It is essential for future government and private agency surveys and reports to emphasize the economic status of the Puerto Rican population, recognize the distribution of particular disabilities among the various racial/ethnic populations, and increase general attention to the oral health of the residents of Puerto Rico with specific concerns regarding individuals with disabilities.

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