J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2014 Sep;38(3):165-169. 10.11149/jkaoh.2014.38.3.165.

A change in the regional disparity based on the national insurance coverage of dental sealant in Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive and Public Health Dentistry, Seoul National University School of Dentistry, Seoul, Korea. baekh@snu.ac.kr

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: In 2002, the Ministry of Health and Welfare initiated a national sealant program (NSP) in public health centers in order to promote oral health among children in rural areas as well as among children with low socio-economic status in urban areas. However, this program was terminated in 2009 and substituted with the national insurance coverage of sealants (NICS). The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the change from NSP to NICS on regional inequality.
METHODS
Based on data obtained from the 2010 and 2012 Korea National Oral Health surveys conducted, we analyzed the average number of permanent teeth with sealants (mean sealant) on the first molars and the prevalence of active dental caries in permanent teeth (D rate), segregated by region, in 8-year-old children. Analyses were performed using SPSS 21.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) after taking into consideration the complex design of the samples.
RESULTS
The D rate of rural children was higher than that of those in metropolitan and city areas. Compared to the 2010 data on the mean sealants on the first molars, a 14.4% and 48.1% increase was observed in the mean sealants in children in the metropolis and in cities in 2012, respectively. However, this number decreased by 7.5% only in the rural areas.
CONCLUSIONS
Accessibility to dental services was limited in the rural areas as compared than in other areas; this result is based on the fact that the D rate in rural areas was higher than that in other areas. The NSP has decreased this regional inequality with regard to the accessibility to dental services. However, it was suggested that the mean sealant on the first molars was reversed due to a change from NSP to NICS.

Keyword

Dental sealants; Oral health inequality; Pit and fissure sealants; Socioeconomic factors
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