The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers

Added November 10, 2020

Citation: Keboa M.T., Hiles N., Macdonald M.E. The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers: a scoping review. Globalization and Health. 2016;12:59. DOI 10.1186/s12992-016-0200-x

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.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the health of refugees and asylum seekers but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the health of refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of this summary alone.