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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MARTINS, Andréa Maria Eleutério de Barros Lima; BARRETO, Sandhi Maria  and  PORDEUS, Isabela Almeida. Utilization of dental services among the elderly in Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2007, vol.22, n.5, pp.308-316. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the pattern of dental services use and its determinants among the elderly in Brazil. METHODS: The study included the elderly participating in the Ministry of Health of Brazil’s oral health survey carried out in 2002 and 2003 who had used dental services at least once in their lifetime. Dentulous and edentulous individuals were compared and analyzed separately using multiple logistic regression. RESULTS: Of 5 009 participants, 46.0% were dentulous and 54.0% edentulous. The prevalence of dental services use in the year right before the survey was 26.6% and 10.4%, respectively. Among dentulous participants, the utilization rate was higher in those with more years of schooling, those who perceived their chewing as poor/very poor, and those who reported feeling oral pain; and lower in those who did not have information on oral health, who perceived their oral health as poor/very poor, those with lower per capita income, those who required prostheses and used them, and who required prostheses and did not use them, those with periodontal problems, and with a higher number of extracted teeth. Among edentulous participants, the utilization rate was higher in those with more years of schooling and those reporting oral pain; and lower in non-whites and in those who did not have information on oral health. CONCLUSIONS: The oral health of the elderly in Brazil is deficient and the use of dental services was lower among those who needed them most. The factors associated with dental services utilization differ for dentulous and edentulous individuals. The only similarities are schooling, having information on oral health, and having experienced pain in the teeth and gums in the previous three months. Public investment in oral health is needed to turn around this scenario.

Keywords : Dental care for aged; health inequalities; oral health; Brazil.

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