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Dental health of homeless adults in Toronto, Canada


Dr. Rafael L. F. Figueiredo, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, 124 Edward St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1G6. Tel.: 416-979-4900; e-mail: Rafael L. F. Figueiredo and Carlos Quinonez are with the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto. Stephen W. Hwang is with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael's Hospital.


Objectives: This study aimed to assess the oral health status of the Toronto adult homeless population; to learn how they perceive their own oral health; and to correlate the presence of oral disease with length of homelessness and unemployment.

Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study collected data from 191 homeless adults who were randomly selected using a stratified cluster sample at 18 shelters. A questionnaire and clinical oral examination were conducted with participants.

Results: The mean Decayed/Missing/Filled Teeth (DMFT) score of the subjects was 14.4 (SD = 8.1). Only 32% of them had visited a dentist during the last year, 75% believed that they had untreated dental conditions, and 40% had their last dental visit for emergency care. The clinical oral examination observed that 88% needed fillings, 70% periodontal, 60% prosthodontic, and 40% emergency treatment.

Conclusion: Homeless adults in Toronto have poor oral health, significant oral health treatment needs, and a lack of access to dental care.