Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Discusses Oral Health Among Black MenChicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell on Tuesday discussed the efforts of two young black dentists in Chicago who are seeking to improve the oral health of black men. Mitchell notes that according to the American Dental Association, more than 50% of black men have untreated dental decay and black men are less likely than other men to have decayed teeth repaired. Black men also have the highest rate of oral cancer and the lowest survival rate from the disease of any other group, Mitchell writes.
In an interview with Mitchell, Patrick Smith, a graduate of Harvard University School of Dental Medicine, said, "The reason why the statistics are so alarming is men don't go in for check-ups, even though oral cancer is more prevalent in the African-American community," adding, "By the time we as black men have oral cancer, it is advanced." Patrick Smith has partnered with Ozzie Smith, a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, to open up a dental office in the Hyde Park community of Chicago.
Patrick Smith added that the "sad part" of the issue surrounding black men and oral health is that "many of them have insurance and they just don't go either because of fear or preconceived notions or complete ignorance about what goes on in a dentist's office." Patrick Smith said that when black male patients come into a dental office and "see how things work and how much better it is, they realize their fears were unwarranted." He also said that he and Ozzie Smith are seeking to increase oral education among local black men by attending health fairs and making themselves more visible in the community (Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.