BACKGROUND: Immigrants are often considered to have poorer oral health than native born-populations. One possible explanation for immigrants' poor oral health is lack of access to dental care. There is very little information on Canadian immigrants' access to dental care, and unmet dental care needs. This study examines predictors of unmet dental care needs among a sample of adult immigrants to Canada over a three-point-five-year post-migration period.
METHODS: A secondary data analysis was conducted on the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC). Sampling and bootstrap weights were applied to make the data nationally representative. Simple descriptive analyses were conducted to describe the demographic characteristics of the sample. Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were applied to identify factors associated with immigrants' unmet dental care needs over a three-point-five-year period.
RESULTS: Approximately 32% of immigrants reported unmet dental care needs. Immigrants lacking dental insurance (OR = 2.63; 95% CI: 2.05-3.37), and those with an average household income of $20,000 to $40,000 per year (OR = 1.62; 95% CI: 1.01-2.61), and lower than $20,000 (OR = 2.25; 95% CI: 1.31-3.86), were more likely to report unmet dental care needs than those earning more than $60,000 per year. In addition, South Asian (OR = 1.85; CI: 1.25-2.73) and Chinese (OR = 2.17; CI: 1.47-3.21) immigrants had significantly higher odds of reporting unmet dental care needs than Europeans.
CONCLUSIONS: Lack of dental insurance, low income and ethnicity predicted unmet dental care needs over a three-point-five-year period in a sample of immigrants to Canada.
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