Objective—This report presents national estimates of access to dental care for the following five subgroups of Hispanic or Latino persons in the United States: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, and other Hispanic or Latino. For comparison, estimates are also presented for non-Hispanic white persons.
Methods—Combined data from the 2000–2003 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, were analyzed to produce estimates for Hispanic or Latino persons aged 2 years and over. Information on dental care service utilization and unmet dental care needs due to cost was self-reported by persons aged 18 years and over. For children aged 2–17 years, the information was collected from an adult knowledgeable about the child’s health. Results—Approximately 49% of Hispanic or Latino adults and 63% of Hispanic or Latino children had visited a dentist at least once in the past year. Mexican adults (44%) were least likely and Cuban adults (60%) were most likely to have used dental care in the past year. The percentage of adults with unmet dental needs was highest among Mexican adults (12%) and lowest among Cuban adults (6%). Among the five subgroups of Hispanic or Latino children, Mexican children (60%) were least likely and Puerto Rican children (72%) were most likely to have visited a dentist in the past year. Mexican children (9%) were more likely than Puerto Rican children (5%) and other Hispanic or Latino children (6%) to experience unmet dental needs due to cost. For both adults and children, underutilization of dental care services was most prevalent among those with poor or near poor poverty status, with less than a high school diploma, who were foreign-born, without health insurance coverage, and who had resided in the United States for less than 5 years. Conclusion—Utilization of dental care services and unmet dental needs due to cost varied among subgroups of Hispanic or Latino persons. Identifying and understanding these subgroup differences will help those who administer policies and design programs for Hispanic or Latinos to improve their access to dental care.