Degree Name



Spanish and Portuguese



Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Ali Crandall

First Faculty Reader

John Beard

Honors Coordinator

Gregory Stallings


oral health, hispanic, latino, health care, dentist, underprivileged


An examination of the perceptions of U.S. dentist’s regarding the quality of Hispanic oral health in the United States. This thesis investigates both the dentist’s potential for making positive change and the challenges that stand in the way of improving the state of Hispanic oral health. Twelve dentists were spoken with by phone to discuss three main questions. Those chosen for the calls practice in the ten states with the highest percentage of Hispanics. An analysis was conducted of the recorded calls that consisted of comparing each response with patient demographics, practice location and years of experience. Responses were categorized and analyzed numerically in graphs to study trends and patterns.

Patient education and pro bono dental work were the two most frequently mentioned responses regarding how dentists can improve Hispanic oral health. Similarly, the current state of patient education and level of pro bono dental work were the two most mentioned responses regarding barriers that hinder progress for Hispanic oral health. Although Hispanic oral health is objectively worse than the U.S. population at large, 66% of dentists were not aware of this reality and thought that Hispanic oral health was not “worse than the general U.S. population” while 33% thought that Hispanic oral health was worse. Given the divided responses, the perception among dentists about Hispanic oral health quality in the U.S. varies greatly. This suggests that many oral healthcare professionals are likely unaware or incorrectly informed concerning this struggling demographic. This identifies the need to make sure dentists across the U.S. stay better educated on issues of race, ethnicity and culture within the world of oral health.