Open Access Research Article

Oral Health Status of the Refugee Population in Utah

Ryan Knighton1, Hanthao Thi Phan1, Maria Cala2, Gerald Brown3, Tejinder P Singh1, Mauricio Agramont2, Franklin Garcia Godoy4, John M Powers5 and Lilliam M Pinzon1*

1University of Utah-School of Dentistry: 530 South Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, USA

2Midvale Community Building Community: 49 West Center Street, Midvale, USA

3Utah Department of Workforce Services: 5735 S Redwood Rd, Taylorsville, USA

4University of Tennessee Health Science Center-College of Dentistry: 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, USA

5Dental Consultants, Inc, 3110 W Liberty, Ann Arbor, USA

Corresponding Author

Received Date: May 19, 2021;  Published Date: June 03, 2021


Introduction: Refugees arriving and living in the United States have been shown to experience high levels of oral health disease and are often in need of extensive treatment. Previous studies have identified high levels of untreated caries, periodontal disease, orofacial disease and disability.

Objectives: This pilot project aimed to identify current gaps in oral health knowledge, attitudes and treatment needs among refugees living in Utah.

Methods: The cross-sectional study was conducted at partner sites identified by the Refugee Education & Training Center, State of Utah. A convenience sample of 103 adults was recruited from the refugee communities settled in Utah. Data collection included the following elements: demographic characteristics, self-reported oral health status, attitudes, and knowledge, DMFT (decayed, missing, filled teeth), and periodontal status.

Results: Clinical findings revealed pervasive oral health concerns and treatment needs. Only 14% were evaluated to have healthy periodontal conditions, while 86% of participants had a least one site of untreated decay. All participants were evaluated to be in need of treatment. Approximately 36% required prompt treatment, while 43.7% were evaluated to require urgent treatment due to pain or infection. This study also identified low levels of oral health knowledge, with only 13% answering all knowledge questions correctly.

Conclusion: This study provided evidence of the extent of oral disease and decay among refugees resettled in Utah and identified the low levels of oral health knowledge in this population. Educational program, especially those evaluate cultural perception, would be a powerful avenue for improving the oral health status of refugees living in Utah.

Keywords: Vulnerable population; Socioeconomic factors; Health education; Attitude to health; Epidemiologic methods; Patient health questionnaire; Health status disparities; Health status

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