Oral diseases are one of the dominant health-related problems affecting millions of people all over the world. The health of a person’s oral cavity depends on many different factors, one of which is the cultural biases that a person possesses. Various cultural biases affect a person’s behavior, habits, and perceptions. Cultural biases include aspects such as attitudes towards health, the perception of beauty, level of awareness and literacy, as well as various behaviors imparted from childhood. In particular, eating habits, health literacy, and beauty standards, all coming from cultural bias, can affect oral health.
The level of health literacy, specifically oral health literacy, influences the oral health condition. Health literacy determines a person’s ability to analyze health-related information and navigate the healthcare system. It is an essential factor that corresponds to the level of awareness about oral health. Health literacy, which is formulated by different cultural and sociodemographic characteristics, impacts a person’s behavior and decisions related to health, affecting the status of the person’s health (Baskaradoss, 2018). For example, proper oral hygiene, timely visits to the dentist, and knowledge of the consequences of ignoring health-related problems determine the state of the oral cavity in a keyway. Lack of oral health literacy leads to poor self-management and delayed diagnosis of the health problems. A sufficient level of health literacy has a positive effect on the state of the oral cavity, as it forms the proper behavior concerning oral health.
The level of a person’s health literacy may predict his oral health state. The level of health literacy may be affected by the level of education and the cultural determinants (Baskaradoss (2018). Knowledge of hygiene and features of dental diseases are acquired by a person at an early age, at school, or in other educational institutions. According to Baskaradoss (2018), people with limited knowledge about oral health are at higher risk for oral diseases and face more problems with periodontal health. Thus, if a person does not have access to quality education, this may affect the level of his dental health. For instance, higher rates of periodontal disease are observed in people with less than a high school diploma (Behar-Horenstein et al., 2017). Education is a key factor that impacts oral health literacy.
Race and ethnicity are other factors affecting oral health. For example, among non-Hispanic black and Mexican American adults (aged 35-44 years), untreated dental caries is almost twice as common as in their non-Hispanic white counterparts, and periodontal diseases mainly affect Mexican Americans and black men who are not Hispanic (Behar-Horenstein et al., 2017). This problem might occur because of the non-competent professionals in healthcare who lack cultural competence. Such oral health providers might provide poor services for people of different ethnicity, race, cultural beliefs, or language. Professionals with a high cultural competence are more likely to provide acceptable care for diverse populations (Behar-Horenstein et al., 2017). Race and ethnicity, as well as the competence of the health care professionals, influence the oral health of diverse groups.
Moreover, such aspects as the perception of beauty and the beauty standard in various cultures influence oral health. According to the study, teeth play an important role in the aesthetic appearance of a smile (Chan et al., 2017). The beauty standards and the image of beauty are changing and modifying. Therefore, healthy teeth corresponding to the level of attractiveness correlate with the essence of having aesthetic dentistry procedures. Willing to improve their physical appearance, people may go for medical interventions. Today, the popularity of aesthetic dentistry has increased and has seen vast progress over the last century (Blatz et al., 2019). There are various aesthetic dentistry procedures like teeth implants, teeth whitening, orthodontics, and periodontal as well as oral and maxillofacial surgery today. The evolution of aesthetic dentistry today allows dentists to mimic teeth and design smiles in accordance with the patient’s individual needs (Blatz et al., 2019). Once oral health is associated with beauty, it increases the popularity of aesthetic dentistry, which contributes to oral health status.
In addition, culture determines and forms food habits, which in turn affect oral health. A person’s dietary preferences affect oral health since teeth are directly influenced by the food consumed. Frequent consumption of sweet food creates the rise of dental caries (Tudoroniu et al., 2020). Sugar is the key product that negatively impacts teeth and increases dental caries risk. After hydrolysis by salivary amylase, sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates provide a substrate for oral bacteria, which, in turn, reduce plaque and saliva pH (Tudoroniu et al., 2020). Thus, such eating habits as consuming a lot of sugar may lead to dental problems. Nutrition is a foremost factor, which has a significant influence on the condition of oral health (Gondivkar et al., 2018). Since eating habits develop from an early age, the culture of eating behavior has a great impact on the health of the oral cavity in the future. Thus, a person’s culture of nutrition significantly affects oral health.
Moreover, nutrition is influenced by other factors related to cultural characteristics. If a child is surrounded by low-quality foods from childhood and eats food with high sugar content, this will affect his future health. Culture exerts its influence from childhood and forms a child’s behavior model, as well as habits and ideas about proper nutrition. According to the study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the dietary habits of teenagers are connected with their dental conditions (Tudoroniu et al., 2020). On the other hand, not all people have the same access to products. For someone, organic quality food may not be available due to high prices or the absence of a residence. Factors such as financial status, the ability to purchase products, and different social determinants also affect what food a person consumes.
In conclusion, oral health is affected by various cultural biases, such as the image of a beautiful smile, eating habits, and health literacy level. These are responsible for daily behavior regarding teeth hygiene, oral health maintenance, and various aesthetic procedures. Firstly, the higher the level of oral health literacy a person has, the better his oral health status. Secondly, people seeking beauty standards tend to care about their oral health and often resort to aesthetic beauty services. Thirdly, eating behavior, which may vary from culture to culture, affects a person’s oral cavity condition. Thus, eating more sweets is accompanied by higher chances of getting dental problems. Moreover, such factors as the competence of the dental care professionals and the level of a person’s education significantly influence the dental cavity condition. For these reasons, there is a significant role of cultural bias in oral health.
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Behar-Horenstein, L. S., Warren, R. C., Dodd, V. J., & Catalanotto, F. A. (2017). Addressing Oral Health Disparities Via Educational Foci on Cultural Competence. American Journal of Public Health, 107(1), 18–23. Web.
Blatz, M. B., Chiche, G., Bahat, O., Roblee, R., Coachman, C., & Heymann, H. O. (2019). Evolution of Aesthetic Dentistry. Journal of Dental Research, 98(12), 1294–1304. Web.
Chan, M. Y. S., Mehta, S. B., & Banerji, S. (2017). An evaluation of the influence of teeth and the labial soft tissues on the perceived aesthetics of a smile. British Dental Journal, 223(4), 272–278. Web.
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Tudoroniu, C., Popa, M., Iacob, S. M., Pop, A. L., & Năsui, B. A. (2020). Correlation of Caries Prevalence, Oral Health Behavior and Sweets Nutritional Habits among 10 to 19-Year-Old Cluj-Napoca Romanian Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 2-12. Web.