J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2017 Dec;41(4):267-273. 10.11149/jkaoh.2017.41.4.267.

Association between unmet needs for dental treatment and the DMFT index among Korean adults

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Dentistry, Dankook University Dental Hospital, Cheonan, Korea.
  • 2Department of Preventive Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea. kbsong@knu.ac.kr
  • 3Department of Dental Hygiene, Kangwon National University, Samcheok, Korea.
  • 4Department of Dental Hygiene, Ulsan College, Ulsan, Korea.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Unmet needs for dental treatment are one of the potential contributing factors to poor oral health because oral health problems worsen if left untreated. This study aimed to demonstrate the prevalence of and the causes for unmet dental needs, and to evaluate the association between unmet needs for dental treatment and oral health status.
METHODS
Data on 3,883 subjects aged ≥18 years from the Korean National Oral Health Survey 2006 were analyzed. Information regarding unmet needs for dental treatment was obtained using standardized questionnaires. Eight trained dentists examined decayed, missing, or filled teeth (DMFT). Multiple regression models were built to assess the association between unmet needs for dental treatment and the DMFT scores.
RESULTS
The prevalence of perceived unmet needs for dental treatment was 34.7% among the adult Korean population. Economic constraints were the main cause (38.6%) for unmet dental needs. The average DMFT scores were higher in the subjects with unmet needs for dental treatment than in those without. In individuals with unmet needs for dental treatment within the past 1 year, the number of decayed teeth after adjusting for confounders was likely to be greater by 0.58 and that of missing teeth by 0.27 compared to that in their counterparts with no unmet dental needs in the past 1 year.
CONCLUSIONS
Perceived unmet needs for dental treatment were significantly associated with poor oral health status among the adult Korean population. Further studies are needed to clarify the direct and indirect effects of unmet needs for dental treatment on an individual's oral health status by investigating critical variables of the causal pathways among perceived dental needs, dental care utilization, and oral health status.

Keyword

Dental care; Dental health surveys; DMF index; Health services needs and demand; Oral health
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