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Aust Dent J. 2011 Sep;56(3):272-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2011.01346.x.

Self-reported oral health of a metropolitan homeless population in Australia: comparisons with population-level data.

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Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, School of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide, South Australia.



There is limited information on self-perceived oral health of homeless populations. This study quantified self-reported oral health among a metropolitan homeless adult population and compared against a representative sample of the metropolitan adult population obtained from the National Survey of Adult Oral Health.


A total of 248 homeless participants (age range 17-78 years, 79% male) completed a self-report questionnaire. Data for an age-matched, representative sample of metropolitan-dwelling adults were obtained from Australia's second National Survey of Adult Oral Health. Percentage responses and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, with non-overlapping 95% confidence intervals used to identify statistically significant differences between the two groups.


Homeless adults reported poorer oral health than their age-matched general population counterparts. Twice as many homeless adults reported visiting a dentist more than a year ago and that their usual reason for dental attendance was for a dental problem. The proportion of homeless adults with a perceived need for fillings or extractions was also twice that of their age-matched general population counterparts. Three times as many homeless adults rated their oral health as 'fair' or 'poor'.


A significantly greater proportion of homeless adults in an Australian metropolitan location reported poorer oral health compared with the general metropolitan adult population.

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