Leroy R, Declerck D. Oral health-care utilization in adults with disabilities in Belgium.
Eur J Oral Sci 2013; 121: 36–42. © 2012 Eur J Oral Sci
Reports on oral health-service utilization among individuals with disabilities are very sparse. Nevertheless, such data are a prerequisite for the provision of proper care and for the development of optimal reimbursement schemes and may ultimately lead to better access to care. The objective of the present study was to provide data on oral health-care utilization in Belgian residents with disabilities and to compare these data with the utilization pattern of their peers without special needs. Data from the Permanent Sample of Socially Insured Persons, an anonymous representative sample of Belgian residents, were used. The database contained prospective data on oral and general health-care utilization and socio-demographic variables from 1,221 individuals with disabilities and from 131,877 individuals without disabilities, collected from 2002 to 2008. Overall, annual dental-attendance rates were very low and in those who attended, professional debridements, a cornerstone in preventive oral health care, were infrequently recorded. In adults with disabilities, significantly fewer radiographs, restorations, and endodontic treatments were recorded, whereas significantly more emergency visits were charged. Further research is indicated to evaluate whether this outcome points to high unmet oral-treatment needs.