Oral health plays an integral role in our general health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Practicing evidence-based oral hygiene behaviors prevent oral diseases and improve systemic health. The burden of preventable oral diseases persists worldwide and weighs particularly heavy on specific population groups. While many studies have explored oral health among those of advanced age, children, and minority groups, there are a very few exploring the oral health care needs of postsecondary students, specifically those born outside of the United States (U.S.). Recognizing this gap in the literature, this study sought to gain a better understanding of oral health access among non-US born postsecondary students with a goal of identifying factors affecting their oral health behaviors. To achieve the objectives of this explorative study, a cross-sectional study design was implemented. A 30-question survey was provided to individuals born outside the U.S. and currently enrolled in postsecondary educational institutions. Descriptive statistics was presented, and a quantitative analysis was performed. The study results suggest that foreign-born postsecondary students may perceive oral health care in the U.S as inaccessible due to economic barriers such as costs and lack of insurance. Moreover, it was found that this population is less likely to visit a dentist because they cannot find a "convenient time" or because they believed their "mouth is healthy". Factors associated with perceived improvements in oral hygiene behaviors included enrollment in postsecondary education and the number of years they've resided in the U.S. Conversely, factors associated with a decline in perceived oral hygiene behaviors included school-induced stress and acculturative stress. It was also found that on-campus dental clinics were less frequently utilized than off-campus dental clinics, with many preferring to receive oral health care outside of the U.S. Citizenship status was also found to be a factor influencing student's oral health seeking behaviors.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Wharton, Tracy


Molina, Olga


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Department of Health Sciences

Degree Program

Health Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date