Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Sarita Arteaga; Arthur Hand; Joan Segal; Stanton Wolfe

Field of Study

Public Health


Master of Public Health

Open Access

Open Access


Background: The University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Dental Medicine (SODM) routinely recruits dental students and faculty volunteers to conduct no-cost dental health screenings for transient residents at South Park Inn Homeless Shelter in Hartford, CT. Once screened, patients are referred to UConn or another hospital-based dental clinic in the area for treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the demographics and oral health needs of the homeless population at South Park Inn and referrals to UConn SODM were followed to verify patient presentation at UCONN SODM. Dental students’ attitudes towards working with the underserved were also assessed. Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of 527 dental screening surveys administered at South Park Inn homeless shelter in Hartford, CT. Current UConn dental students that participated in South Park dental screens were administered a survey evaluating their experiences at the homeless shelter. Results: Half of the study participants had acute dental needs, 35% declared a chief complaint requiring prompt attention, 72% displayed clinically visible decay, and 36% had retained all of their adult teeth. Of the homeless residents that were referred to UConn for dental care, 18% had at least one dental visit at UConn SODM. In addition, the survey of dental students found that the majority of student volunteers believed their experience working with this homeless population increased their comfort with working with underserved populations and enhanced their dental education. Conclusion: This study informs public health practitioners about the needs of the homeless population located in Hartford, Connecticut. A better understanding of oral health issues common to the homeless can allow for an oral health outreach program to be designed that is appropriately prepared to meet the needs of this community and is readily accessible by the homeless population.

Major Advisor

Sarita Arteaga