Scientific Abstracts

2010 Arturo Santiago / Dentsply International
Scientific Abstract Competition

October 29, 2010

Dental researchers with an interest in optimizing oral health for the Hispanic community participated in the 2010 Arturo Santiago / Dentsply International Scientific Research Competition at the Hispanic Dental Association’s 18th Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.  The competition was sponsored by HDA Corporate Roundtable Sponsor Dentsply International, and is an annual competition with a financial prize of $1,000 awarded to the winner.

This year’s judges were Dr. Manuel Cordero and Dr. Glenda Urias-Sesteaga. The winner, Alejandra Valencia was presented with her award at the Gala Ceremonies.  Alejandra is pictured below with Cynthia Sensabaugh, Dentsply International (award sponsor), and Dr. Maritza Morell, HDA Treasurer and Scientific Abstract Chair.

 WINNING ABSTRACT:  Disparities in Access-Utilization of Dental Services among Iowa Children: The Latino Experience

Alejandra Valencia, Karin Weber-Gasparoni, Fang Qian, John Warren, Peter Damiano, Preventive and Community Dentistry, University of Iowa


To identify factors that determine access and utilization of dental services by children in Iowa. Emphasis was given to understand the role of race-ethnicity with the use of care and to identify factors related to utilization of dental services among Latinos.


The study used data from the Iowa Child and Family Household Health Survey (IHHS) 2005 which was a state-wide population-based telephone survey that used a combination of random digit dial and targeted phone numbers. Participants in this study were 3,288 families with children 3-17 years of age. One child per household was chosen randomly to be included in the study. Latino’s language chose for the interview (English or Spanish) was used as a proxy measure for acculturation. A conceptual framework for Hispanic oral health care was used to identify factors related to the used of care for this population. Multiple logistic regression models were developed to identify factors associated with the time of last dental check-up in Iowa children and to assess the association of race/ethnicity with the use of dental services.


Results indicated that those children who were 3-6 years of age (p≤0.001), had no dental need last year (p≤0.001), rated child dental health as good/poor/fair (p≤0.001), had no regular source of dental care (p≤0.001), brushed their teeth once a day (p=0.002), had no dental insurance (p≤0.001), and had a family income of less than $25,000 (p=0.009) were significantly less likely to report having a dental check-up visit in the last 12 months. Findings suggest an indirect association of race/ethnicity with the use of dental services through other related factors. Significant differences were found between the two Latino groups. Having a regular source of dental care and the age of the children were identified as the most significant factors associated with the use of care for Latinos.


This is one of the first attempts in Iowa to assess oral health disparities affecting minority children. Less acculturated Latinos were constantly showing worse outcomes compared to more acculturated Latinos, African-Americans, and whites. Differences found between more and less acculturated Latinos suggest that the classification of Latinos as one general ethnic group should be avoided. Interventions to improve the use of dental services in this population should focus on overcoming important structural barriers.