Objectives:The aim of this study was to assess social inequality in use of dental services by examination of visiting for relief of pain and receipt of extractions.
Methods: Data were collected in the period of 2004-06, from a stratified clustered sample of Australians aged 15+ years, using a computer-aided telephone interview. Analysis was restricted to n=10,099 dentate adults.
Results: Visiting for relief of pain varied by age, country of birth, education and income with lower odds (Odds ratio, 95%CI) among 55-74 (0.43, 0.35-0.54) and 75+ year-olds (0.22, 0.15-0.33) compared to the 15-34 year-olds, lower odds among Australian-born persons (0.82,0.69-0.98) compared to those born overseas, higher odds for those with no post-secondary education (1.31, 1.07-1.61) and with TAFE, trade or other qualifications (1.34, 1.09-1.66) compared to university qualified, and for those in the <$20,000 income group (1.61, 1.23-2.12), the $20,000-<$40,000 (1.53, 1.20-1.96) and the $40,000-<$60,000 group (1.33, 1.02-1.72) compared to <$80,000+. Receipt of extractions varied by age, sex, qualifications and income, with lower odds of extraction among persons of 75+ years (0.61,0.40-0.93) compared to the youngest age group, higher odds among males (1.34, 1.13-1.59) compared to females, those with no post-secondary education (1.59, 1.27-1.99) and with TAFE, trade or other qualifications (1.49, 1.21-1.84) compared to university qualified, and for the income groups <$20,000 (3.06, 2.27-4.12), $20,000-<40,000 (2.37, 1.80-3.12) and $40,000-<60,000 (1.94 1.47-2.55) compared to the $80,000+ income group.
Conclusions: The results indicate social inequality in provision of dental services and suggest an urgent need for the dental profession and governments to address this inequality.