The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers

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There is a higher burden of oral diseases and limited access to oral health care among refugee populations, in comparison to other vulnerable groups in host countries.

Despite being mandated by international conventions and treaties, standards of and access to oral health care for refugees vary within and across national borders. Forty-four studies addressing an aspect of oral health of refugees and/or asylum seekers were identified to identify important dental public health concepts for refugees and asylum seekers. Most studies (n=36) were from industrialized countries and three-quarters of them used quantitative methods. The results showed a consistently higher burden of oral disease and less access to oral health care among refugees and asylum seekers compared to the least privileged population of the host country. Even when services were available and free, the rate of utilization was low. Only minimal strategies to improve the oral health were identified. Further oral health research, focusing particularly on developing countries where the majority of refugees live, must be conducted to inform appropriate dental public action.

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