The oral health and treatment needs of community-dwelling older people in a rural town in Western Australia


Correspondence to: Dr Estie Kruger, University of Western Australia. Email:


Objectives:The aim of this study was to assess, in a sample of older rural community-dwelling Australians, their: oral health status, dental treatment needs, perceived barriers to access dental services and the prevalence and severity of dental anxiety.

Methods:A cross-sectional study of elderly rural Australians.

Results:Eighty participants (mean age of 71.7 years) had a mean number of 0.69 (SD 1.6) decayed teeth, 15.72 (SD 13.3) missing teeth and 3.9 (SD 5.4) filled teeth. Forty-one per cent were edentulous. Xerostomia was reported by 53% of the edentulous and 43% of the dentate. The average Corah Dental Anxiety Scale score was 8.72 (SD 3.8). Prevalence of dental anxiety was 15.6%. Two-thirds needed dental treatment.

Conclusions:Caries experience was lower than that reported in other studies. Reported barriers to use of dental services were long waiting times, lack of perceived dental need and costs.