Changes over time in the use of dental services among young adults

While oral health of children has improved over recent decades, recent research indicates that the percentages visiting regularly falls away among young adults. Objectives: To investigate changes over time in the use of dental services between 1987-88 and 2001 among a synthetic birth cohort of young adults. Design: Data from six social surveys across 1987/88 to 2001 were used to create a synthetic cohort and time comparisons. Participants: Children aged 10-14 yo (NOHSA (1987/88)); 15-20 yo (National Dental Telephone Interview Survey (NDTIS) 1994); 17-22yo (NDTIS 1996); young adults 20-24yo (NDTIS 1999 and SA Young Adult Survey 1998/99); and 23-27yo (SA Young Adults 2001). Results: Analyses showed that between the ages of 10-14 years and 23-27 years the percentage making a dental visit in the previous year dropped sharply (81.5% in 1987-88 cf 47.0% in 2001); and dental insurance declined (52.2% cf 45.8% in 2001); fillings and extractions increased from 15-20 yo (23.4% and 11.0% in 1994) to 23-27 yo (30.8% and 17.1% in 2001). Conclusion: Use of dental care decreased with age among young adults, and fillings and extractions increased. Oral health promotion in this age group is necessary to prevent further erosion of the oral health gains made in childhood. Supported by the Australian Dental Research Foundation.

JF Stewart*, KF Roberts-Thomson, KL Goldsmith

Presented at the 34th Public Health Association of Australia Annual Conference, 29 September – 2 October 2002, Adelaide, Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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