Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 693–698 | Cite as

Oral Health Status of Refugee Children in Montreal

  • Anne-Marie Moreau
  • Fatima Hennous
  • Basma Dabbagh
  • Beatriz Ferraz dos SantosEmail author
Original Paper


This study aimed to assess the oral health status of refugee children in comparison with that of Canadian children. In addition, we investigated the extent to which demographic factors are associated with caries experience in this population. Children with a confirmed refugee status and Canadian children (control group) matched for age and sex composed the study population. A comprehensive review of dental charts was completed to assess children’s demographic data, caries experience, oral hygiene and gingival health status. The majority of refugee children had never seen a dentist before their arrival to Canada. Refugee children had significant higher dmft/DMFT scores than Canadian children (7.29 ± 5.1 and 4.47 ± 5, respectively; p < 0.0001). Furthermore, individual factors, such as refugee status (OR = 5.08; 95% CI = 2.31–11.1) and child age (OR = 2.17; 95% CI = 1.04–4.51) were significantly associated with caries experience. Access to appropriate dental care to refugee children should be a key priority for health care providers and policy makers.


Refugee Oral health Children Caries Canada 



The authors wish to thank Solange Veloso and Sara-Andrea Bazinet for their invaluable contributions to the Student Dental Clinic for Pediatric Dentistry. We also would like to thank all the staff of the Division of Dentistry, Montreal Children’s Hospital for their contributions to this project.


  1. 1.
    United Nation Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Figures at a glance. In: Statistical yearbooks 2017.
  2. 2.
    Canada facts and figures, immigrant overview, permanent residents, research and evaluation branch, citizenship and immigration, Canada 2014.
  3. 3.
    Woodward GL, Leake JL, Main PA. Oral health and family characteristics of children attending private or public dental clinics. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1996;24(4):253–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ghiabi E, Matthews DC, Brillant MS. The oral health status of recent immigrants and refugees in Nova Scotia, Canada. J Immigr Minor Health. 2014;16(1):95–101.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dong M, Loignon C, Levine A, Bedos C. Perceptions of oral illness among Chinese immigrants in Montreal: a qualitative study. J Dent Educ. 2007;71(10):1340–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Newbold KB, Danforth J. Health status and Canada’s immigrant population. Soc Sci Med. 2003;57(10):1981–95.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brown RM, Canham D, Cureton VY. An oral health education program for Latino immigrant parents. J Sch Nurs. 2005;21(5):266–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Prendergast MJ, Williams SA, Curzon ME. An assessment of dental caries prevalence among Gujurati, Pakistani and white Caucasian five-year-old children resident in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Community Dent Health. 1989;6(3):223–32.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bedi R, Elton RA. Dental caries experience and oral cleanliness of Asian and white Caucasian children aged 5 and 6 years attending primary schools in Glasgow and Trafford, UK. Community Dent Health. 1991;8(1):17–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pollick HF, Rice AJ, Echenberg D. Dental health of recent immigrant children in the Newcomer schools, San Francisco. Am J Public Health. 1987;77(6):731–2.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Maserejian NN, Trachtenberg F, Hayes C, Tavares M. Oral health disparities in children of immigrants: dental caries experience at enrollment and during follow-up in the New England Children’s Amalgam Trial. J Public Health Dent. 2008;68(1):14–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Geltman PL, Radin M, Zhang Z, Cochran J, Meyers AF. Growth status and related medical conditions among refugee children in Massachusetts, 1995–1998. Am J Public Health. 2001;91(11):1800–5.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    IFHP Government of Canada. Interim Federal Health Program: summary of coverage. 2018.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Amin MS, Elyasi M, Schroth RJ, Azarpazhooh A, Compton S, Keenan L, et al. Improving the oral health of young children of newcomer families: a forum for community members, researchers, and policy-makers. J Can Dent Assoc. 2014;80:e64.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kuile S, Rousseau C, Munoz M, Nadeau L, Ouimet M. The universality of the Canadian health care system in question: barriers to services for immigrants and refugees. Int J Migr Health Social Care. 2007;3(1):15–26.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    McKeary M, Newbold B. Barriers to care: the challenges for Canadian refugees and their health care providers. J Refug Stud. 2010;23(4):523–45.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hoover J, Vatanparast H, Uswak G. Risk determinants of dental caries and oral hygiene status in 3–15 year-old recent immigrant and refugee children in Saskatchewan, Canada: a pilot study. J Immigr Minor Health. 2016;19(6):1315–21.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Recueil de statistiques. sur l’immigration et la diversité au Québec 2014.
  19. 19.
    Shonkoff JP, Garner AS, Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care, Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, et al. The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics. 2012;129(1):e232–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Beck CT, Froman RD, Bernal H. Acculturation level and postpartum depression in Hispanic mothers. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2005;30(5):299–304.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Geltman PL, Adams JH, Cochran J, Doros G, Rybin D, Henshaw M, et al. The impact of functional health literacy and acculturation on the oral health status of Somali refugees living in Massachusetts. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(8):1516–23.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bhaskar V, McGraw KA, Divaris K. The importance of preventive dental visits from a young age: systematic review and current perspectives. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2014;6:21–7.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    de Jong-Lenters M, Duijster D, Bruist MA, Thijssen J, de Ruiter C. The relationship between parenting, family interaction and childhood dental caries: a case–control study. Soc Sci Med. 2014;116:49–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Amin M, Perez A. Is the wait-for-patient-to-come approach suitable for African newcomers to Alberta, Canada? Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2012;40(6):523–31.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Clarke M, Locker D, Murray H, Payne B. The oral health of disadvantaged adolescents in North York, Ontario. Can J Public Health. 1996;87(4):261–3.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Locker D, Clarke M, Murray H. Oral health status of Canadian-born and immigrant adolescents in North York, Ontario. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1998;26(3):177–81.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Nicol P, Anthonappa R, King N, Slack-Smith L, Cirillo G, Cherian S. Caries burden and efficacy of a referral pathway in a cohort of preschool refugee children. Aust Dent J. 2015;60(1):73–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Zimmerman M, Bornstein R, Martinsson T. Dental health status in two groups of refugees in Sweden. Acta Odontol Scand. 1988;46(1):19–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cote S, Geltman P, Nunn M, Lituri K, Henshaw M, Garcia RI. Dental caries of refugee children compared with US children. Pediatrics. 2004;114(6):e733–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Davidson N, Skull S, Calache H, Murray SS, Chalmers J. Holes a plenty: oral health status a major issue for newly arrived refugees in Australia. Aust Dent J. 2006;51(4):306–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Reza M, Amin MS, Sgro A, Abdelaziz A, Ito D, Main P, et al. Oral health status of immigrant and refugee children in North America: a scoping review. J Can Dent Assoc. 2016;82(g3):1488–2159.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Glick M, Williams DM, Kleinman DV, Vujicic M, Watt RG, Weyant RJ. A new definition for oral health developed by the FDI World Dental Federation opens the door to a universal definition of oral health. J Public Health Dent. 2017;77(1):3–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Nunn ME, Dietrich T, Singh HK, Henshaw MM, Kressin NR. Prevalence of early childhood caries among very young urban Boston children compared with US children. J Public Health Dent. 2009;69(3):156–62.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Melvin CS. A collaborative community-based oral care program for school-age children. Clin Nurse Spec. 2006;20(1):18–22.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Regie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. La couverture des soins dentaires 2017.
  36. 36.
    Calvasina P, Muntaner C, Quinonez C. Factors associated with unmet dental care needs in Canadian immigrants: an analysis of the longitudinal survey of immigrants to Canada. BMC Oral Health. 2014;14:145.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hobson WL, Knochel ML, Byington CL, Young PC, Hoff CJ, Buchi KF. Bottled, filtered, and tap water use in Latino and non-Latino children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(5):457–61.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rink N, Muttalib F, Morantz G, Chase L, Cleveland J, Rousseau C, et al. The gap between coverage and care—what can Canadian paediatricians do about access to health services for refugee claimant children? Paediatrics Child Health. 2017;22(8):430–7.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ruiz-Casares M, Cleveland J, Oulhote Y, Dunkley-Hickin C, Rousseau C. Knowledge of healthcare coverage for refugee claimants: results from a survey of health service providers in Montreal. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(1):e0146798.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Karaiskos N, Wiltshire WA, Odlum O, Brothwell D, Hassard TH. Preventive and interceptive orthodontic treatment needs of an inner-city group of 6- and 9-year-old Canadian children. J Can Dent Assoc. 2005;71(9):649.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Dentistry, Department of Pediatric SurgeryMontreal Children’s HospitalMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations