Education-Related Inequalities in Dental Services Use among Older Adults in 23 Countries

F. Bof de Andrade, J. L.F. Antunes, F. C.D. Andrade, M. F.F. Lima-Costa, J. Macinko

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This study aimed to measure the magnitude of education-related inequalities in the use of dental services among older adults (aged 50 y or older) from a sizable multicountry sample of 23 upper-middle- and high-income countries. This study used cross-sectional data from nationally representative surveys of people aged 50 y and over. Countries included in the Health and Retirement Study surveys were the following: Brazil, China, South Korea, Mexico, United States, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The dependent variable was the use of dental services, based on the self-report of having had a dental visit within the previous year, except for the United States and South Korea, which used 2-y recall periods. Educational level was used as the measure of socioeconomic position and was standardized across countries. Multivariate logistic regression modeling was used to evaluate the factors associated with the use of dental services, and the magnitude of education inequalities in the use of dental services was assessed using the slope index of inequality (SII) to measure absolute inequalities and the relative index of inequality for relative inequalities. The pooled prevalence of the use of dental services was 31.7% and ranged from 18.7% in China to 81.2% in Sweden. In the overall sample, the absolute difference in the prevalence of use between the lowest and highest educational groups was 20 percentage points. SII was significant for all countries except Portugal. Relative educational inequalities were significant for all countries and ranged from 3.2 in Poland to 1.2 in Sweden. There were significant education-related inequalities in the use of dental care by older adults in all countries. Monitoring these inequalities is critical to the planning and delivery of dental services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1347
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • dental care
  • epidemiology
  • health care disparities
  • health services for the aged
  • oral health
  • socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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