Objective: To gather the available scientific evidence about the oral health of migrants in south-south contexts.
Keywords: dental health services, emigrants, immigrants, oral health
Methods: A scoping review methodology was applied through a comprehensive search in databases of scientific and grey literature: PubMed/Medline, Scopus, LILACS, EMBASE, Google Scholar and the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development. A descriptive analysis of the characteristics of the selected studies was conducted.
Results: The search yielded 23 papers. Seventeen studies (17/23, 73.9%) were conducted on the Asian continent and 91.3% (21/23) were cross-sectional. Studies were focused on oral health problems such as dental caries and periodontal disease with diverse findings when comparing immigrants with natives. Some studies found poor oral health indexes in migrants. Migrants face barriers to dental health services. Other oral health variables addressed in the studies were oral health–related quality of life, beliefs, knowledge and practices in oral health. Determining factors related to oral health were evidenced, such as migration status, sociodemographic, cultural, psychological, living, economic and material conditions, social support, oral health practices and previous oral and general health status. Studies reported conceptual and methodological gaps and limitations that must be considered when interpreting the results.
Conclusion: According to the scientific evidence, immigrant populations in south-south migratory contexts show poor oral health indicators, and this translates into social vulnerability in this group. Further research is needed to increase the scientific body about the social and contextual determinants in oral health and understanding of the social construction of this phenomenon.