Self-reported oral health and use of dental services among asylum seekers and immigrants in Finland-a pilot study

Eur J Public Health. 2016 Dec;26(6):1006-1010. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckw116. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


Background: The number of asylum seekers and immigrants arriving in European countries is growing explosively. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate self-reported oral health, oral health habits, dental fear and use of dental health care services among asylum seekers and immigrants in Finland.

Methods: The interview study carried out in 2012 comprised 38 participants (18 males and 20 females) from 15 different countries, nine of whom were asylum seekers and 29 immigrants. The youngest participant was 17 and the oldest 53 years old. Each interview took approximately 30 min.

Results: The participants reported high need for dental treatment. Compared with the immigrants, the asylum seekers reported significantly more frequently dental pain and other symptoms and were less satisfied both in getting a dental appointment and in the quality of treatment they had received. All the asylum seekers and almost half of the immigrants found it difficult to get an appointment. The immigrants were more aware of good oral health habits than the asylum seekers. The asylum seekers suffered from dental fear more often than the immigrants.

Conclusion: Despite the small number of participants, our interview-based study indicates that asylum seekers and immigrants have need for acute and basic dental treatment and health education.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oral Hygiene / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult