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NIDCR Grant to the College of Dentistry Will Examine the Effects of Immigration on Oral Health

Dr. Gustavo Cruz
Is there a correlation between the number of years an immigrant has lived in the United States and his or her ability to access oral health care? That’s one of the questions that Dr. Gustavo Cruz, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion and Director of Public Health Promotion at the College of Dentistry, will examine in a new study focusing on the oral health status of immigrants living in New York City. The two-year study is funded by a $300,000-plus grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

New York’s foreign-born population grew from 2.1 million in 1990 to 2.9 million in 2000. This study is believed to be the most in-depth effort to date to pinpoint factors that influence the oral health of specific Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and West Indian subgroups living in the United States. Dr. Cruz will examine whether there is a correlation between country of birth, age at immigration, and number of years in the U.S., and perceptions of oral health, utilization of oral health care services, and oral health status, as measured by levels of caries and periodontal disease.

Dr. Cruz will analyze data on the top six racial/ethnic immigrant groups in New York City -- Chinese, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central/South Americans, West Indians, and Indians from the South Asian subcontinent – originally collected by the NYU Minority Oral Health Research Center, one of four federally-funded regional institutes that operated from 1992 to 2000.

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