Oral health behaviour in migrant and non-migrant adults in Germany: the utilization of regular dental check-ups

BMC Oral Health. 2017 May 19;17(1):84. doi: 10.1186/s12903-017-0377-2.


Background: Migrants in many European countries including Germany tend to utilize preventive measures less frequently than the majority population. Little is known about the dental health of migrants as well as about their oral health behaviour, particularly in the adult population. The aim of this study was to examine differences in the uptake of annual dental check-ups in adult migrants and non-migrants in Germany.

Methods: We used data from the cross-sectional survey 'German Health Update 2010' conducted by the Robert Koch Institute (n = 22,050). Data from 21,741 German-speaking respondents with information on the use of dental check-ups was available, of which 3404 (15.7%) were migrants. Multiple logistic regression models were applied to adjust for demographic and socioeconomic confounders, including the place of residence as well as type of health insurance.

Results: Migrants were generally younger, had a lower socioeconomic status and showed a lower utilization of dental check-ups. The unadjusted odds ratio (OR) for utilization was 0.67 (95%-CI = 0.61-0.73). After adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic confounders the chance only increased slightly (adjusted OR = 0.71; 95%-CI = 0.65-0.77).

Conclusions: The analysis shows that migration status is associated with a reduced chance of attending dental check-ups, independently of demographic and socioeconomic factors. The influence of other factors, such as type of health insurance and place of residence had also no influence on the association. Migrants are exposed to different barriers in the health care system, comprising the patient, provider and system level. Further studies need to examine the relevant barriers for the uptake of preventive dental services in order to devise appropriate migrant- sensitive measures of dental prevention.

Keywords: Dental check-ups; Migrants; Oral health; Prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transients and Migrants*