Acculturation and dental sealant use among US children

R. Constance Wiener, Patricia A. Findley, Chan Shen, Nilanjana Dwibedi, Usha Sambamoorthi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Healthcare (including dental care) service use is influenced by predisposing, enabling and need factors. One area with limited research is the association of acculturation (defined as behavioural changes in the adaptation to another culture) as a predisposing factor for dental care preventive service use. Preventive service use is a primary objective of Healthy People, 2030. The purpose of this study was to determine the association of acculturation with the preventive dental service use of dental pit-and-fissure sealant placement, among children in the United States, ages 6-18 years. Methods: A cross-sectional, secondary data analysis study was completed using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013-2016 data. NHANES is a nationally representative survey of noninstitutionalized individuals across the United States. In the data set, children, ages 6-18 years, had been evaluated for pit-and-fissure dental sealant use. Information that served as proxies for acculturation was length of stay in the United States (a citizen at the time of the survey; not a citizen and in the country <5 years; or not a citizen and in the country ≥5 years) and whether English was spoken at home (yes; no). Data were analysed for descriptive statistics. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine strength of the associations. Odds ratios for pit-and-fissure sealants among groups were determined. Results: There were 2220 children participants whose data were used for this study. Less than half (45.5%) had received dental pit-and-fissure sealants. A majority (53.3%) were white and were ages 12-18 years (51.6%). The mean number of dental pit-and-fissure sealants among all children was 5.5. There was a lower percentage of children living in the United States <5 years who had received pit-and-fissure sealants than children who were citizens of the United States (22.2% vs 48.9%, respectively). The adjusted odds ratio was lower for dental pit-and-fissure sealants among children who were in the United States <5 years than children who were citizens of the United States (adjusted odds ratio, 0.38; 95% Confidence Interval: 0.24, 0.58). Conclusions: In this study, children who had lived in the United States <5 years were less likely to have pit-and-fissure sealants than children who were citizens of the United States. There is a need to reach all children with preventive services to improve dental quality of life, reduce the need for dental restorations and decrease overall financial burden regardless of time in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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