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Oral Health of the Immigrant Population

The Oral Health Study of the Immigrant Population (OHSIP) was a survey of the oral health status of Nova Scotian immigrants and refugees conducted in 2010-2011. This research was a collaborative effort among researchers from the faculties of Dentistry, Medicine and Health Professions and was funded by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation.

Research team

Research goals

  • document the oral health status of recent immigrants and refugees (<5 years since arrival to Canada) in Nova Scotia
  • identify any barriers in access to oral health care services

Research design

Through working closely with Immigration Settlement & Integration Services and the Host/Family Services Program of the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth, 80 immigrants and refugees were invited to participate in the study.

Consenting individuals were interviewed by a research assistant. Interviews included demographic questions and questions on the subjects’ perception of their oral health and access to oral care services since arrival to Canada.

After the interview, all subjects had an oral exam. During the exam, any problems associated with the teeth, gums and oral mucosa were noted. After the exam, the subjects were informed of any treatment they needed and how to access the Dalhousie Dental Clinic to obtain the necessary care.

Research findings

  • The clinical exam found high rates of untreated oral disease (both tooth decay and gum disease).
  • Clinically assessed treatment needs were much higher than self-reported treatment needs.

This research has identified significant oral health treatment needs among this growing segment of our population.

Ghiabi E, Matthews DC, Brillant MS. The Oral Health Status of Recent Immigrants and Refugees in Nova Scotia, Canada. J Immigrant Minority Health 2014; 16:95-101. doi:10.1007/s10903-013-9785-9