Objective: To investigate time trends in dental service provision.
Methods: A random sample of Australian private general practice dentists were sent mailed questionnaires in 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003 (response rates 71%-76%). Services per visit were collected from a log of a typical clinical day. The annual number of services provided per dentist was calculated by multiplying services per visit by number of patient visits supplied per year. The annual number of services provided per patient was calculated by multiplying services per visit by the average number of visits per year available from Australian population surveys.
Results: Total services per visit increased over the study period from 1.78 to 2.37 (Poisson regression; P<0.05). However the annual number of services provided per dentist did not vary significantly, reflecting a trend among dentists to supply fewer patient visits per year. The annual number of services provided per patient increased from 3.47 to 5.50 (OLS regression; P<0.05), reflecting both increased service rates per visit and increased numbers of visits by patients. Service rates per visit increased over time for diagnostic, preventive, endodontic and crown and bridge services, but decreased over the study period for prosthodontic and extraction services. Dentists provided less restorative, prosthodontic and extraction services per year, but more diagnostic, preventive, endodontic and crown and bridge services. The annual care received per patient also included more diagnostic, preventive, endodontic and crown and bridge services but differed from the dentist pattern through increased rates of restorative services over the study period.
Conclusions: The content of dentist workloads has changed to include less emphasis on removal and replacement of teeth and more effort on diagnosis and prevention aimed at retention of natural dentitions. Supported by Australian Govt. Dept. of Health and Ageing, AIHW and NHMRC.
DS Brennan*, AJ Spencer
Presented at the 84th General Session and Exhibition of the IADR, 28 June – 1 July 2006, Brisbane Australia
Note: * indicates presenter