Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine utilization patterns of dental services, unmet dental needs, access to care barriers, and oral health behaviors as perceived by migrant farmworkers at a rural southern Illinois farmworker health clinic.
Methods: Two bilingual dental hygiene students and one member of the local Hispanic community verbally administered a 26-item survey questionnaire to 119 migrant farmworker clients at a health center as they waited to receive care.
Results: Utilization results showed that 51% of those surveyed had not sought oral health care in the previous year, citing absence of pain or discomfort as the primary reason. Forty-one percent reported seeking oral health care on a yearly basis, while 42% only sought care when in pain. Primary services received were examinations, prophylaxes, and restorations. Having received brushing instructions was reported by 58%, while 45% had received instructions on flossing. Barriers to care were reported as limited clinic hours (57%), high fees (33%), and lack of transportation (17%). Most respondents reported regular brushing habits, but only 11% used floss daily, 38% occasionally, and 52% didn't use it at all. Only 7% reported smoking. Meanwhile, bleeding gingiva was reported by 50%, swollen or tender gingiva by 37%, and tooth loss by 49%.
Conclusions: The majority of migrant farmworkers in a southern Illinois community reported access to care barriers, and having never or episodically received dental services. Nearly half reported signs of periodontal disease.