Factors of Dental Care Utilization in Foreign-Born Older Chinese Americans

W. Mao, B. Wu, W. Yang, I. Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Good oral health is essential for healthy aging. Regular dental care utilization is instrumental to good oral health. Older immigrants tend to experience poorer oral health and less dental care use as compared with their native-born counterparts in the host country. Older immigrants are particularly vulnerable to interrupted or lost social ties and acculturation challenges after immigration to a new country. This study examined whether and to what extent social relations, acculturation, and perceived oral health needs are associated with dental care utilization in foreign-born older Chinese Americans. Data came from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago, which were collected between 2017 and 2019 (N = 3,000). Dental care utilization was dichotomized into “yes” versus “no” in the past 2 y. Social relations were measured by positive and negative relations with spouse, family, and friends. Acculturation was measured by length of stay, behavioral acculturation, and residence in Chinatown. Perceived oral health needs were measured by the presence of problems related to teeth, gums, or bleeding. As guided by the Andersen model, separate logistic regression models were used to investigate factors of dental care utilization. An overall 23.1% reported dental care utilization. Individuals with no negative relations with spouse, family, and friends were 31%, 36%, and 38% less likely to visit a dentist, respectively. Individuals with higher levels of behavioral acculturation were 4% more likely to visit a dentist; individuals living in Chinatown were 45% less likely; and individuals with perceived oral health needs were 2.5 times more likely. Findings illustrate the importance of understanding social relations, immigration-related factors, and perceived oral health needs in dental care utilization in older immigrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-900
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • acculturation
  • correlates
  • dental service
  • immigration
  • oral health
  • social relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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