• Access;
  • dental care;
  • young adults


Background: Despite reported concern over the dental care of young adults little research has been done on their use of dental services in Australia. The aim of this study was to investigate the patterns of dental utilization of young South Australian adults aged 20–24 years.

Methods: A random sample of 2300 young adults was selected from the electoral roll. Partial or complete addresses and possible phone numbers were obtained for 1921 persons. Telephone interviews were conducted for 1261 subjects to obtain information on socio-demographics, health behaviour and dental visiting (response rate 65.6 per cent).

Results: One third of young adults (34 per cent) had not made a dental visit in the previous two years and 38 per cent usually visited for a problem rather than a check-up. Making a dental visit in the last two years was significantly associated with a number of socio-demographic variables including age and gender, with holders of private dental insurance and those who have not avoided care because of cost having higher odds of making a visit and males and government concession card holders having lower odds of visiting. Usual reason for visiting a dentist for a problem was significantly associated with no private dental insurance, holding a government concession card, no tertiary education and avoiding care because of cost.

Conclusions: This study suggests that demographic and economic factors influenced use of dental services and reason for visiting of young South Australian adults.