Objectives: This study was designed to determine the use of dental services and factors associated with their use among the United Kingdoms' older population.
Design: A national study involving 1,116 older people (aged 60 or older).
Setting: Home Interview s were undertaken exploring the time and reason for last dental visit. In addition, socio-demographic characteristics and proxy oral health measures (self-reported number of teeth and edentulous status) of the respondents were collected.
Results: Forty seven percent (528) claimed they visited the dentist within the past year, 10% (116) claimed that the reason for their last visit was because of a dental emergency, 43% (484) were classified as “regular attenders” - having attended the dentist within the past year for a non dental emergency. Bivariate analysis identified that regular dental attendance was associated with age (P<0.01), social class (P<0.01), income level (P<0.01), educational attainment (P<0.01), self-reported number of teeth possessed (P<0.01) and edentulous status (P<0.01). In regression analysis, self reported edentulous status and number of teeth possessed emerged as the most important factors in determining service utilisation. Possessing a full denture was associated with a 6-fold decrease, having accounted for other factors, in the likelihood of attending the dentist within the past year for a non dental-emergency (OR=0.15, CI 0.10,0.21).
Conclusion: Less than half of the sample population were “regular dental attenders”, their attendance was associated with a number of socio-demographic and oral health factors. In particular, edentulous state was a major factor associated with their use of services.