Adults living in deprived areas are likely to receive worse dental care than those in less deprived areas according to new research.
A new study, published in the journal PLOS One, has found that the type of dental care your receive could vary depending on your state of deprivation. Adults from highly deprived areas were less likely to receive prevention care and advice, and more likely to have a tooth extracted, compared to those from the least deprived areas.
A team of researchers from the Dental Institute at King’s College London and the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy made the discovery. They examined data that covered a four-year period from 2008-2012, looking at individual factors. These factors include demography, smoking status and whether patients were exempt from paying for treatment. It also looked at contextual factors, such as deprivation based on area of residence, to identify factors that predict the types of dental treatment received.
They discovered that adults from the most deprived areas were more likely to receive a ‘tooth extraction’ when compared with least deprived areas. And less likely to receive preventive ‘instruction and advice’. There was also evidence of a higher rate of ‘tooth extraction’ among adults who were exempt payment, older (>65 years) and male. Smokers had a higher likelihood of receiving all treatments and were notably over four times more likely to receive ‘instruction and advice’ than non-smokers. The odds of receiving treatment also increased with age.
Co-author Professor Jenny Gallagher from King’s College London said:
“We know from other research that people from areas of higher deprivation are more likely to suffer from tooth decay less likely to attend regularly and only go for emergency care when in trouble. We want to encourage patients not to wait but to attend regularly so that dental disease can be picked up early and the need for extraction is reduced. Also to ensure that they take any preventive care and advice available to reduce the risk of further disease”
“Our study provides evidence of an increasing need for treatment with age, smoking, exemption from payment and deprivation status, all of which have implications for health services planning and provision. The results provide a crucial insight into the provision and receipt of contemporary dental care, and should inform discussions on performance indicators that target priority groups such as smokers and future planning for our ageing population.”
Principal investigator Dr Kristina Wanyonyi from the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy said:
“In utilising routinely collected data from visits to the dentist we were able to understand more about patients’ needs and plan services effectively.”
“The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, which is a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and King’s College London Dental Institute, is in a unique environment to evaluate dental care in the NHS and this research provides evidence on the need to promote the availability of electronic records for use in patient centered research.”
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