The oral health of homeless adolescents and young adults and determinants of oral health: preliminary findings

Spec Care Dentist. 2008 Nov-Dec;28(6):237-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-4505.2008.00046.x.


A survey was administered to 55 homeless adolescents and young adults aged 14 to 28 years who presented for care at a community health center in Seattle, Washington in 2005. Forty-five valid surveys were analyzed. The aim of the study was to identify factors associated with self-reported oral health. The most common self-reported dental problem was sensitive teeth (52.6%), followed by discolored teeth (48.6%), toothache (38.5%), or a broken tooth (37.8%). Dental problems were associated with lower self-reported oral health, while non-high school graduates, mixed race youths, and methamphetamine users had significantly higher self-reported oral health. Among homeless youths, addressing dental problems with direct dental care may improve self-perceived oral health. The relationships between methamphetamine use and education level, on the one hand, and self-reported oral health, on the other, are complex and may be modified by age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Dental Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Dentin Sensitivity / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gingival Diseases / epidemiology
  • Homeless Youth / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Methamphetamine
  • Oral Health
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Concept
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tooth Discoloration / epidemiology
  • Tooth Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Tooth Fractures / epidemiology
  • Toothache / epidemiology
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Methamphetamine