The differences in oral health care among cultures within the US

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY: Every day new people with different and unique cultures and ideas from all over the world immigrate to the U.S.

Posted: June 22, 2015

Every day new people with different and unique cultures and ideas from all over the world immigrate to the U.S. Because of this growing cultural diversity, every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a study on the number of foreign-born population in the living in the country. According to findings from 2010, the estimated number of foreign-born immigrants is around 40 million people. This equates to around 13 percent of the population. This is a rise from the data compiled in 2000 that listed the number of foreign-born immigrants at around 31 million people, which was around 11 percent of the population.  All these culturally diverse people have different beliefs and practices when it comes to their personal health, and more specifically, oral health. 

According to a paper published by the Dental Clinics of North America , because of the cultural diversity of the people now living in the U.S., a single approach to promoting oral health is not going to be enough. The different kinds of people living here have different beliefs and practices when it comes to oral health. This means that oral health professionals need to be aware of the cultural reasons individuals practice oral health the way they do and find ways to work around those cultural beliefs. 

Oral hygiene
The emphasis on straight, white, clean teeth is not held by several cultures outside of the U.S. Some cultures might not be well-educated on the affects of gum and other oral diseases. Those people often don't worry as much about plaque, tartar and other oral health concerns. In many parts of the world, people only worry about their oral health when there is a problem such as pain in the teeth or gums. 

Home remedies, myths and outdated techniques
Because people have been dealing with oral health problems for thousands of years, there are many different home remedies that have been created. Most were created with outdated or false information. Still, in some cases these remedies are preferred by people to going and seeing a dentist. Often these homeopathic remedies simply offer relief to the symptoms or prolong the problem until greater damage is done. While these home remedies offer temporary relief, they rarely address the underlying problem, making it impossible for oral health to get better.

An example of this would be traditional Chinese medicine. According to BMC Oral Health, traditional Chinese medicine was "conceptualized within the context of yin-yang, hot-cold, and dry-wet balances, as well as qi and holism." According to traditional Chinese medicine tooth health was in some way linked to the kidneys. 

Dentists visits
In some cultures, going to see the dentist is not a regular occurrence. For many people, the dentist is reserved for toothaches, bleeding gums and other, more serious, problems. Things like basic cleanings and diagnosis do not play a role in people's regular oral health care. 

The importance of education
Most of the difficulties that arise from cultural differences come down to education. Because some cultures don't place an emphasis on certain oral health concerns, people simply don't know how vital proper oral health techniques and practices are. While cultural beliefs and practices should always be taken into account, educating people on proper oral health is extremely important. 

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