Oral health status of immigrant and refugee children in North America

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Children of refugees and immigrants are more likely to suffer from dental diseases. They are less likely to seek oral health care due to language, cultural and financial barriers.

Dental diseases are disproportionately concentrated among refugee and immigrant (“newcomer”) children. Children affected by dental diseases are more likely to perform poorly at school due to inattentiveness or absence. The aim of this scoping review was to assess the oral health status of the children of refugees and immigrants; the barriers to appropriate oral health care and use of dental services; and clinical and behavioral interventions for this population in North America. 32 studies met inclusion criteria, the majority of which was placed within the United States (n=26), the remainder in Canada (n=6). Children of newcomer show poorer oral health compared with local populations. Barriers limiting the access to oral health care and dental services were language, culture and financial barriers. The three studies studying intervention programs found that educational courses and counseling targeting both parents and children may improve the oral health status of the children. Despite the majority of studies identified being placed in the United States, the discussion focuses more specifically on the Canadian context.

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