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Oral health

  • Background

    Dental caries are the most prevalent health problem in Australia.1 The impact of poor oral health is significant at an individual and public health level, and poor oral health is linked with low socio-economic status and disadvantage.2 The Covid pandemic has also led to delays in preventive care access and dental waitlists and service demand continue to increase. 

    Adults of refugee background have high rates of dental disease, with limited studies on the prevalence of dental disease in refugee children,3,4 and no published Australian data on children seeking asylum. Refugee background and asylum seeker children in Australia are at risk of poor oral health due to pre-migration adversity, increased accessibility to high sugar snacks/beverages after migration, and decreased traditional oral hygiene practices.5,6 In addition, barriers to accessing dental services are well described for refugee-background communities in Australia.3-5, 7-10 More recently, oral health has been a prominent issue in children arriving from Afghanistan, and very recent arrivals from Ukraine. 

    This page is intended as a quick guide to oral health resources, referral pathways, and details on funding options for dental care in refugee and asylum seeker children and adolescents. 

    Oral health resources

    Dental services

    Funding supports


    Immigrant health resources. Author: Georgie Paxton, Tatiana Polizzi, May 2022. Contact: