Dental visits in older Western Australians : A comparison of urban, rural and remote residents

C. Adams, Linda Slack-Smith, Ann Larson, M. O'Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: It has been reported that the aged in rural areas may not access regular dental care. The aim of this study was to describe dental visits for those 60 years of age and older living in urban, rural and remote locations in Western Australia and to determine factors associated with such visits. The main outcome was having had a dental visit in the previous 12 months. Design: A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted. Setting: Urban, rural and remote locations in Western Australia. Subjects: A total of 2100 participants, 60 years of age and older. Results: The present study demonstrated that people in rural and remote areas of Western Australia had a longer time since their last dental visit than people in urban areas. Within each sex, age, country of birth, income, occupation and education group, the highest proportion of people having attended a dentist in the previous 12 months was in urban areas and the lowest was in remote areas. Controlling for sex, age, education and oral health status, compared to urban residents, rural residents were 14% less likely to have seen a dentist and remote residents were 27% less likely. Conclusion: The present study demonstrated that for the aged sector of the Western Australian population, geographical location is a major factor in the frequency of use of dental services and the reasons for dental visits. This raises concerns that improvement of oral health by prevention and early detection of tooth and gum problems is less likely to occur in rural and remote areas than in urban areas. What is already known on this subject: Although the existing literature identifies needs of the aged and those in rural areas, there is a lack of data at a level in a state with sufficient sample size to fully investigate use of dental services by the aged. What does this study add: The present study contributes to our knowledge of the ways that rurality affects the demand for and utilisation of dental services by the aged in this sparsely populated state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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