Factors influencing older people's self reported use of dental services in the UK

Authors

  • Colman McGrath,

    Corresponding author
    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for disability, culture and oral health, National Center for Transcultural oral Health, Eastman Dental Institute for oral Health for Science, University of London.
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  • Raman Bedi,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for disability, culture and oral health, National Center for Transcultural oral Health, Eastman Dental Institute for oral Health for Science, University of London.
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  • Niharika Dhawan

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for disability, culture and oral health, National Center for Transcultural oral Health, Eastman Dental Institute for oral Health for Science, University of London.
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Address for correspondence: Dr Colman McGrath, WHO Collaborating Centre for disability, culture and oral health National Centre for Transcultural Oral Health, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care Sciences, University College London, 256 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LD, UK Tel:+44 (0)20 7915 1234 Eax:+44 (0)20 7915 1233 Email:C.Mcgrath@eastman.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

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.

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