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Introduction: Low-income and underserved populations have disproportionately more unmet oral health needs. This may reflect factors across the lifetime as well as current home hygiene and access to care. These experiences lead to dental care having personal impacts on their lives that oftentimes can lead to personal opinions and stories. Their opinions and stories can provide insight to new themes that are not found within the existing limited literature. Steering away from a technical view on oral health research, personal perspectives can provide a new approach to oral health utilization that can further expand the limited existing literature. Objective: To identify findings related to dental safety net patients’ experiences of their oral health and dental care that are not already reflected in the literature. Methods: Using an iterative process, we identified deductive codes from the existing literature on oral health disparities and utilization and inductive codes found within interview recordings and recording transcripts from interviews conducted among participants who obtain services at federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Richmond, Virginia (n=29). This poster explores a new theme not previously well-documented in the literature.
Results: Numerous Latinx patients reflected on their lifetime acceptance of dental problems, their gratitude for treatment opportunities at the FQHC, and the role that their faith has played in their oral health experiences. Discussion: Frameworks and theories need to take into consideration the way patients perceive their oral health experiences, for example through spirituality and cultural methods. Patients have strong cultural beliefs and methods that play a big role in their health and decision-making. Safety net providers should give equal amounts of attention and appropriate care to all patients. Some patients noted that providers wouldn’t give them certain advice or care while others would state the opposite. Fear, as well as low-income, little to no resources, and waiting times for appointments were common reasons why a person might not visit a dentist.
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Dr. Sarah E. Raskin
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