25: Minority Ethnic Populations in the United Kingdom

Chapter 25

Minority ethnic populations in the United Kingdom

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:
1. State the percentage of the population (England and Wales) represented by minority ethnic groups.
2. List barriers in the uptake of dental treatment and ways of breaking down these barriers.
3. List guidelines for producing suitable promotional material for this target group.


Oral health educators (OHEs) will give oral health education to patients from minority ethnic groups, which is becoming an increasingly larger target group.

The 2011 Census [1] for England and Wales recorded that 9.5% of the population was made up of black and minority ethnic groups compared to 7.85% in the 2001 census [2]. Older members of this population (particularly Caribbean) may have migrated here in the 1950s, but an increasingly large proportion is born in the United Kingdom.

It is therefore important to have some knowledge of the ideas and beliefs commonly encountered in people from these groups and to break down any barriers, such as language, that may exist.


Whilst it would be wrong to generalise, health and community personnel who work with minority ethnic groups are aware that the uptake of dental treatment in this section of the population is often below the national average.

There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Older generations – may have never seen a dentist and may not see the need to take their children, or commonly only attend when they have a problem as they would in their country of birth.
  • Bad experiences in country of origin – may have caused distress and so reluctant to visit the dentist.
  • Conflicting views in the family – concerning the importance of oral health.
  • Lack of awareness of services and facilities.
  • Communication/language barrier.

Breaking down the barriers

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Jan 4, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on 25: Minority Ethnic Populations in the United Kingdom
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