Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Dental decay is the most prevalent and preventable chronic disease in U.S. children. Many barriers exist to improving oral health outcomes and are considerably greater in medically underserved populations such as migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs) and residents of public housing developments. This study sought to assess the barriers to good oral health outcomes in MSFW children who attend the Blueberry Harvest School (BHS) in Washington County, Maine and child residents of Lewiston Housing Authority – Hillview to suggest interventions to improve their oral health status. A survey focused on nutrition, hygiene and access to dental services was administered to the children and children were examined by a licensed dentist. Data was compared to CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS). All children were offered follow-up services at no cost post-examination. Most disparities derived from access to dental services, nutrition, and hygiene; however, both groups had significantly more dental sealants than both NHANES and MIYHS. To capitalize on the preventative power of dental sealants, a school-based dental sealant program should be established with the application of fluoride varnishes. A program in a familiar location may also decrease the anxiety that these populations have while in a dentist’s office. In addition to the distribution of dental supplies, low- literacy health education should be administered to both populations on local fruits and vegetables, principles of nutrition, hygiene, fluoride, preventative dental services, and a patient’s rights and responsibilities.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Karen Palin

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Community Engagement



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.