Access to oral care — A systematic review of a continuing public health issue among older adults
Oral health is essential for the general well being of the individual and collectively for the health of the population. Oral health can be maintained by routine dental care and visits to dental professionals, but accessing professional dental care may be a continuing difficulty in vulnerable older adult population. Many older adults are not frequent users of dental care, though oral health is crucial to their well-being and overall health. Access to care is the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best possible health outcomes. Objectives: The aims of this review are to (i) to analyze and elucidate the relationship between socio-economic disparities in gender, ethnicity, poverty status, education and the continuing public issue of access to oral care, (ii) to identify the underlying causes through which these factors can affect access to oral care. This review will provide a knowledgeable basis for development of interventions to provide adequate access to oral care in older adults and implementing policies to ensure access to oral care; through highlighting the various socio economic factors that affect access to oral care among older adults. Methods: This paper used a purposeful review of literature on socioeconomic disparities in access to oral care among older adults. The references considered in this review included all the relevant articles, surveys and reports published in English language, since the year 1985 to 2010, in the United States. The articles selected were scrutinized for relevancy to the topic of access to oral care and which included discussions of the effects of gender, ethnicity, poverty status, educational status in accessing oral care. Results: Evidence confirmed the continuing disparity in access to oral care among older adults. The possible links identified were gender inequality, ethnic differences, income levels and educational differences affecting access to oral care. The underlying causes linking these factors with access to oral care were established. Conclusion: The analysis of the literature review findings supported the prevalence of disparities in gender, ethnicity, income and education with its possible links affecting access to oral care. The underlying causes helped to understand the reasons behind this growing issue of inaccessible oral care. Further research is needed to develop policies and target dental public health efforts towards specific problem areas ensuring equitable access to oral services and consequently, improve the health of older adults.
Ninan, Elizabeth, "Access to oral care — A systematic review of a continuing public health issue among older adults" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1497586.