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There is a research gap concerning the evaluation of the oral healthcare of refugees. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the oral health of refugees and to estimate the costs of oral care.
The study was conceptualized as a pilot study. The study participants were refugees who lived either in collective living quarters or at a reception center in a region of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The cross-sectional design was complemented by dental screening. Data were collected from August 2016 until July 2017. The basic condition of the teeth was evaluated using a convenience sample by a single dentist. The assessment of caries was carried out visually in accordance with the International Caries Detection and Assessment System from code 3 and higher. The DMF-T (decayed, (D), missing, (M), filled (F), teeth (T)) index was calculated. The costs of oral care were analyzed for conservative treatment (filling or extraction) and for prosthetic treatment (missing teeth) in the form of a bridge or crown.
The dental screening was attended by 102 refugees, with a mean age of 28 years. A total of 49% of the study sample suffered from toothache, and the DMF-T index had a mean of 6.89. For 92% of the study sample, treatment was indicated, and a cost estimate of the treatment could be calculated. The average cost of conservative treatment was estimated to be 205.86 EUR, and the average cost of prosthetic treatment was estimated to be 588.0 EUR. The oral healthcare costs of the different treatment procedures were higher for refugees that presented with toothache than for those without toothache, with the exception of prosthetic treatment procedures.
There is a lack of population-based data that survey the oral health status of refugees. Therefore, the current study presents an initial overview regarding the oral health status and the potential costs of oral healthcare of refugees.