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Inequality in unmet dental care needs among South Korean adults

 Nayoung Kim  ;  Chang-Yup Kim  ;  Hosung Shin 
 BMC ORAL HEALTH, Vol.17(1) : 80, 2017-04 
Journal Title
Issue Date
Adult ; Aged ; Cross-Sectional Studies ; DMF Index ; Dental Care / economics* ; Female ; Health Services Needs and Demand* ; Humans ; Male ; Middle Aged ; Nutrition Surveys ; Oral Health ; Republic of Korea ; Socioeconomic Factors
Complex sampling design ; Inequality ; Normative dental treatment ; Self-perceived oral health status ; Socioeconomic factors ; Unmet dental care needs
Background: The current public health research agenda was to identify the means to reduce oral health inequalities internationally. The objectives of this study were to provide evidence of inequality in unmet dental needs and to find influencing factors attributable to those among South Korean adults.

Methods: Pooled cross-sectional data from the fourth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2009) on 17,141 Korean adults were used. Demographic factors (sex, age, and marital status), socioeconomic factors (education level, employment status, and income level), need factors (normative dental needs and self-perceived oral health status), and oral health-related factors (the number of decayed teeth, the presence of periodontitis, and the number of missing teeth) were included. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed.

Results: Of South Korean adults, 43.9% had perceived unmet dental needs, with the most common reason being financial difficulties. The disparities in unmet dental care needs were strongly associated with income level, normative treatment needs, and self-perceived oral health status. The low-income group, people with normative dental treatment needs, and those with perceived poor oral health status were more likely to have unmet dental needs. There was considerable inequality in unmet dental care needs due to economic reasons according to such socioeconomic factors as income and education level.

Conclusions: Public health policies with the expansion of dental insurance coverage are needed to reduce inequalities in unmet dental care needs and improve the accessibility of dental care services to vulnerable groups who are experiencing unmet dental care needs due to socioeconomic factors despite having normative and self-perceived needs for dental treatment.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine (마취통증의학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Kim, Na Young(김나영) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3685-2005
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