Morehouse School of Medicine Tackles Prevalence of Tooth Loss in African-Americans, Other Oral Health Disparities

MSM’s Community Voices receives $320K grant from Kellogg Foundation to sponsor oral health issue
of American Journal of Public Health

Ronna Charles Nu’Man 

August 10, 2016 - ATLANTA –
Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is working to advance health equity as underrepresented groups in the U.S. continue to drastically lag behind other populations in oral health.

“African-Americans have the greatest incidence of edentulism (complete loss of teeth), for example,” says Henrie M. Treadwell, Ph.D., founding director and senior advisor of MSM’s Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved (CV). “We seek to change this.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the prevalence of complete tooth loss among adults aged 65 and older is a startling 29 percent for African-Americans--much higher than it is for whites (17 percent) and Hispanics (15 percent). Also, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American-Indian and Alaska Natives have the worst overall oral health of any racial and ethnic group in the country, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CV recently received a $320,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to sponsor a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health that will address disparities in oral health access, policy and practice as well as transformative models of care. It is slated for a Summer 2017 release.

“The supplement will focus not just on defining the problem but how the oral health care field looks in terms of minority representation, how the field works and how the field responds to underserved communities,” Treadwell says. “Through a combination of editorials, research articles, essays and commentaries, we will look at ways to improve the current oral health care landscape for underrepresented groups.”

In 2014-15, CV conducted surveys among community members and practicing dentists in Georgia, Mississippi and Florida to explore perceived barriers to care, existing oral health needs and the dental workforce.

A pair of manuscripts for the academic community and the special American Journal of Public Health issue are an outgrowth of that work. CV’s vision is for equal access to an “oral health home,” regardless of ability to pay.

“An oral health home refers to a regular and routine care system that addresses dental hygiene and maintenance, rather than sole reliance on emergency rooms and extractions for care,” Treadwell says.


About Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)

Founded in 1975, MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians and was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011 as the top institution in the first study of U.S. medical schools for our social mission based on our production of primary care physicians, training of underrepresented minority doctors and placement of doctors practicing in underserved communities. Our faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care.

Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award doctorate and master degrees. For more information, please visit