By: Melanie Forti, Programs Director
Oral health is an important component of our overall health. The lack of oral health can affect the ability to fulfill essential functions such as eating and speaking. Among minorities and undeserved population dental care is a big problem that has been poorly addressed. Agricultural workers frequently suffer from disparities in oral health compared to the rest of the U.S. population.
Similar to other health issues, migrant and seasonal farmworkers frequently suffer from oral disease due to lack access to dental health care. A recent study revealed that migrant and seasonal farmworker’s lack of oral health is due to various factor such as: limited clinic hours, transportation issues, language barriers, mobile population and the cost to receive dental care.
Dental cavity is the main oral health issue that children of farmworkers face. They have the highest rate than any other ethnic or racial group. About 50% of farmworker’s children between ages 12 and 17 have on average 1 to 3 cavities already at such a young age.
Usually we relate oral health to teeth, gums, mouth and probably the throat. However, oral health is much more than this. The lack of oral health can affect a person’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Having oral pain can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities, interact with other individuals, eat, sleep, or work. In addition, oral health has been linked to other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and pregnancy complications.
Having a good oral health is vital. If we could address the main barriers that agricultural workers and their families face, then we can help improve their oral health. Moreover, they can live a healthier life.