24 May 2017

Achieving Oral Health Equity in Wimauma

There are currently no dental practices in Wimauma. The Tampa Bay Health Care Collaborative recently received funding through the Common Good Initiative to survey Wimauma residents and service providers about their attitudes, beliefs and perspectives regarding oral health/dental care. More than 200 community surveys, 40 social service providers and 10 oral health provider surveys were collected. The most valuable lesson learned was a desire and tremendous support for developing low cost, efficiently coordinated dental care in Wimauma. The results also confirm that oral health disparities exist.

A total of 58% of respondents rated their oral health as “poor” or “fair” with 48% of residents admitting that they avoid smiling and laughing because of their teeth. Surveys from residents of a gated community in Wimauma had much lower percentages to these two questions. Identified barriers to care include cost, uncertainty about treatment cost, lack of bilingual dental providers, unable to find a dentist open late or on weekends, and long wait time at dental office.

Tampa Bay Health Care Collaborative offered several strategies to improve the situation: waiting rooms talks in the community, training residents as community health dental coordinators, provider and staff training, creation of a dental directory for the area, and bringing school sealant program to the community.