Dental service utilization and immigrant family structure

Christopher E. Okunseri, Klea Rota, Elaye Okunseri, Kadam Patel, Raul I. Garcia, Cheng Zheng, Aniko Szabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the patterns and time trends of dental services received and access to dental care among immigrant and US-born children living in the United States. Methods: We analyzed the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Survey data for 2007–2015. Survey weighted mean and frequency were calculated for all the years and for each year for the complete cohort and for the four subgroups of children categorized based on the child's and parents' birthplace (United States or Foreign). These groups were compared to detect differences in dental service received. Results: Overall 34,482 children aged <18 years were included in the analysis representing the weighted sample size of 564,255,643. Utilization of preventive dental services increased from 37.2 percent in 2007 to 44.4 percent in 2015 overall (P < 0.0001), with similar trend seen within all subgroups. Immigrant children compared to US-born children had higher numbers of surgical and restorative procedures (17 versus 16 per 100-person years, P = 0.03), fewer had at least one preventive dental visit in a year (32.8 percent versus 43.0 percent, P < 0.0001) and were less likely be unable to access dental care (3.0 percent versus 1.7 percent, P = 0.005). Fewer children had delayed access to dental care in recent years (2.0 percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2015) and the decline was consistent in all the subgroups. Conclusion: Stratification into the different subgroups allowed for improved understanding of dental procedure utilization and dental services utilization in all subgroups increased over time. Immigrant children had lower utilization of preventive procedures and higher utilization of surgical and restorative procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • children
  • dental procedures
  • dental service utilization
  • immigrant oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Dental service utilization and immigrant family structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this