Assessing Oral Health Status, Practices, and Access to Care among War-Affected Refugees Living in San Antonio, Texas

Eur J Dent. 2020 Jul;14(3):371-379. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1710400. Epub 2020 May 24.


Objectives: Refugees encounter several health disparities including oral health problems. This study evaluated the self-reported oral health status, practices, and access to care of adult refugees living in San Antonio, Texas, United States.

Materials and methods: Adult refugees (n = 207) who accessed services from two centers in San Antonio, completed this survey. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the relationship of the refugees' demographics with oral health status, practices, and access to care.

Results: Oral pain in the previous 12 months was common among refugees having been reported by almost 58.9% of the survey participants; 43% reported pain as the reason for their last dental visit. Approximately half of the participants reported both the condition to their teeth and gums as being good: 42.5 and 54.6%, respectively. Most participants (84%) reported brushing their teeth one or two times a day, and around 78% reported they never smoked. Fifty-two percent reported needing dental care in the past 12 months, but not being able to receive it; while 45.9% reported not having dental insurance, 41.5% reported not having money to pay a dentist. Fifteen percent reported never visiting a dentist. Arabic speakers, moving to the United States more recently, and lower level of education were associated with a poor oral health status and practices (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Refugees in this study encountered limited access to dental care. Their inability to seek dental care could affect their oral and general health, weaken efforts of preventing oral health diseases, and restrict their full inclusion into the community.

Grants and funding

Funding None.