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Gaps in Dental Care Are Tied Up With Income Inequality

Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Dane Hoang

Dr. Dane Hoang is passionate about promoting good oral health and dental hygiene. “Maintaining a healthy mouth can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. More so, bad oral health, particularly if you have gum disease, can elevate your risk of major health problems such as heart attack and stroke,” said Hoang. 

As a pediatric dentist, Hoang sees patients daily at her two dental practices in Texas. She’s noticing a disturbing trend. “I’m concerned about my pre-teen and teen patients who, like many other kids, eat too many sugary snacks and drinks. This can lead to a high rate of tooth decay,” said Hoang, whose message of good oral health stretches across the globe.

Mission very possible

“I serve as a medical volunteer for Operation Smile and I travel throughout the world offering free dental services and education for kids and adults — some of whom have a cleft lip (tear in the lip) or a cleft palate (gap in the roof of mouth). Whether I’m seeing patients in the United States, Vietnam, or elsewhere, I always encourage my patients to take good care of their mouth and to see a dentist twice a year,” Hoang explained.

She knows that’s easier said than done, as access to good oral health care can be a barrier for many families. “While working outside of the U.S., I’ve heard parents say that the cost of a dental visit would be equivalent to a paycheck. This barrier is a big problem across the globe.”

“The disparity is real, and there are dangerous consequences that can lead to life threatening results,” said Hoang. “Every child and every family across the world should have access to regular dental services. In the interim, I encourage brushing, flossing and watching what you eat, which are all important steps in preventing dental diseases,” Hoang added.

In the meantime

Until the gap in dental care access is closed, Hoang says she’ll continue to do her part by donating her time and skills to those with limited access to care. She encourages everyone to remember “a healthy mouth equals a healthy smile and a healthy you,” Hoang concluded.

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