Factors influencing use of dental services in rural and urban communities: Considerations for practitioners in underserved areas

Lisa J. Heaton, Timothy A. Smith, Ted P. Raybould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals' utilization of dental services depends upon an array of factors, including access to care, financial restrictions, attitudes toward dental care, and dental fear. These factors, in turn, may vary across geographic locations and demographic groups. The goals of this study were to assess the use of dental services in both rural and urban areas of Kentucky and to examine challenges facing practitioners in rural areas. Individuals sampled from a rural population and patients in rural and urban dental clinics completed questionnaires about use of dental services, self-rated dental health, and dental fear. While these variables were strongly interrelated, differences emerged across locations. Patients in the urban area reported having more dental insurance but not better dental health. Patients in more rural areas reported seeking more emergency dental treatment but not more dental fear. While these factors are important considerations across locations, dental practitioners in rural areas in particular should be aware of barriers to dental care facing individuals in these areas. They have unique opportunities to provide education to their patients regarding the importance of dental care and the role of oral health in overall physical health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1081-1089
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Volume68
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by HRSA Grant 5 D30 HP 10144-05.

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Dental health services
  • Dental health surveys
  • Health services accessibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry (all)

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