Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Adrienne L. King, PhD

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Armstrong-Mensah, PhD, MA


INTRODUCTION: Oral disease, often categorized as a silent epidemic, can affect several vulnerable population groups in the United States. An often-overlooked demographic in the US when it comes to poor oral health, oral disease, and oral health disparities are people with intellectual or physical disabilities and some racial groups. Despite current programs and interventions established, inequalities still exist for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD).

AIM: The purpose of the study was to conduct a comparative analysis of oral health issues among Caucasians and African Americans with IDD in the US, focusing on identifying disparities and interventions in place to address the disparities. The study will help to provide a better understanding of the disparities in dental care among Caucasians and African Americans with IDD, address any research gaps, and provide recommendations for future studies and research.

METHODS: A preliminary search of the databases (PubMed, CINAHL Plus, and ProQuest) was conducted based on the PICO framework utilizing the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) framework. The study sought available literature that describes oral health disparities among people with IDD and identifies interventions in place to address the disparities. and how this affects their oral health. The preliminary search of the databases yielded 294 articles. After the removal of duplicates, only 214 articles remained. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were utilized for this analysis of relevant articles. Fifteen articles met all the criteria and were included in this systematic review.

RESULTS: Overall, twelve articles were included in this systemic review. Seven publications reported on barriers and disparities to oral health describing the social determinants that can impact oral health outcomes in individuals with IDD, especially in minorities with IDD. These barriers can include social, personal, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Lastly, five articles reported on recommendations and interventions for oral health outcomes in individuals with IDD and identified potential interventions such as educational modules, mobile dental clinics, at-home dental services, and guidelines for the inclusion of individuals with IDD in research.

Conclusion: Despite the limited research comparing African Americans and Caucasians with IDD, this review shows that minority groups often face undue disparities and barriers to optimal dental care. As a result of social determinants and a lack of intervention programs catered to this population at various levels, racial and ethnic minorities still experience poor oral health outcomes. Results from this systematic review can contribute to improving the oral health outcomes of individuals with IDD, especially minorities with IDD. Awareness of potential recommendations and interventions to decrease the disparities could improve the overall oral health of this vulnerable populatio


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