Inequality in unmet dental care needs among South Korean adults

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Kim, Nayoung; Kim, Chang-yup; Shin, Hosung

Issue Date
BimMed Central
BMC Oral Health, 17(1):80
InequalityUnmet dental care needsNormative dental treatmentSelf-perceived oral health statusSocioeconomic factorsComplex sampling design
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 dults.

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.

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.

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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College of Medicine/School of Medicine (의과대학/대학원)Health Policy and Management (의료관리학전공)Journal Papers (저널논문_의료관리학전공)
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