Objectives: To measure the utilisation of dental services among adults eligible for the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme (DTBS) in Ireland, and to analyse how demographic factors influence attendance.
Methods: Data on dental attendance, among employees who have sufficient social insurance contributions, was obtained from the DTBS claims database.
To assess the frequency of dental visits over time, a cohort of adults aged 16-64 years was drawn from those who had treatment in 2003 (n=255,266), and their pattern of attendance was observed during 2004-2008. A five-year period was chosen as it is often used for measuring regularity in dental care.
Logistic regression analysis was applied to determine the effect of age and gender on dental attendance. Regular dental attendance is defined by at least one dental visit, on average, per year during the five-year period.
Results: In 2003, 23.8% of those eligible for the DTBS used the service. The age cohort with the greatest utilisation was 25-34-year-olds (33.7%). Although more males (n=573,669) were eligible for the DTBS than females (n=497,389), a greater proportion of females used the service (29.7% vs. 18.7%; p<0.0001).
Each person received, on average, 9.9 (±6.3) treatments during the five-year period, ranging from 8.3 (±5.7) for 16-24-year-olds to 11.9 (±7.9) for 55-64-year-olds. Average number of treatments was greater for females than males (10.1 vs. 9.5;p<0.0001).
There was a significant relationship between frequency of attendance and age. Using 25-34-year-olds as a reference, the odds of attending every year increased up to 55-64-year-olds: 16-24 (OR=0.5;p<0.0001), 35-44 (OR=1.3;p<0.0001), 45-54 (OR=1.4;p<0.0001), 55-64 (OR=1.1;p<0.0001). The odds were also greater for females (OR=1.5;p<0.0001) than males. These figures were similar for those that used the scheme in 2004.
Conclusion: Utilisation of dental services was greater amongst females. There is an inverted-U-shaped relationship between the odds of frequent attendance and age.
Funded by Health Research Board:RP/2007/293