Effect of waiting time on oral health and use of dental services

This study compared the oral health, social impact and dental visiting patterns of persons on legacy waiting lists (LWL) for public dental care for 12, 24 and 36+ months. Respondents completed a questionnaire on use of dental services and social impact of oral health and were examined. Response yields of 26.4%, 20.0%, and 14.4% were obtained for those who had waited 12 months, 24 months, and 36+ months respectively. Use of services was related to length of time on the LWL with 26.2% (12 month), 39.5% (24 month) and 51.9% (36+ month) having used other dental services (Chi sq; p<0.05). Pain as a reason for seeking care was significantly related to time on the LWL with 9.1% (12 month), 19.7% (24 month) and 25.0% (36+ month) having used services for pain and more of those who had been on the waiting list for 36+ months had received an extraction while waiting (16.5%) than for 24 months (14.0%) and 12 months (5.7%) (Chi sq; p<0.01). There were no differences in caries experience and little difference in social impact by time on LWL.. Differences in use of dental care and treatment received were related to time spent on the public dental LWL.

K Roberts-Thomson*, M Hayes, S Buchanan, A Patterson

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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