Oral health issues among migrant farmworkers

J Dent Hyg. 2002 Spring;76(2):134-40.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dental Devices, Home Care
  • Dental Prophylaxis
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent
  • Fees, Dental
  • Female
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / classification
  • Gingivitis / classification
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education, Dental
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Rural Health Services
  • Smoking
  • Tooth Loss / classification
  • Toothbrushing
  • Transients and Migrants*