Demographic, oral health status and social changes are leading to a greater proportion of older adults retaining their natural teeth. However, up to two-thirds of older adults are financially disadvantaged, which may create affordability issues in accessing timely and appropriate dental care.
Denture wearers reported higher levels of avoidance of some foods than persons with natural teeth only. Higher levels of extractions and denture services among card-holders may contribute to inequality of oral health between card-holders and non-card-holders.
Patterns of inter-age-group variation showed:
- higher levels of complete tooth loss with increasing age;
- lower levels of dental insurance with increasing age; and
- among non-card-holders, increasing age was associated with a igher percentage aking dental visits in the previous 12 months and lower levels of visiting for a problem.
Card-holders were substantially disadvantaged in all measures of oral health and access to services, including:
- higher rates of edentulism;
- longer time since last dental visit;
- problem-oriented dental visiting patterns;
- low levels of eligible older adults receiving dental care at public clinics and dental hospitals;
- greater difficulty paying a $100 dental bill;
- lower levels of dental insurance; and
- higher levels of extractions in the previous 12 months.
These findings indicated barriers in the use of dental services, including the receipt of problem-oriented care and the pattern of services received.