The oral health and treatment needs of community-dwelling older people in a rural town in Western Australia

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The aim of this study was to assess, in a sample of older rural community-dwelling Australians, their: oral health status, dental treatment needs, perceived barriers to access dental services and the prevalence and severity of dental anxiety.


A cross-sectional study of elderly rural Australians.


Eighty participants (mean age of 71.7 years) had a mean number of 0.69 (SD 1.6) decayed teeth, 15.72 (SD 13.3) missing teeth and 3.9 (SD 5.4) filled teeth. Forty-one per cent were edentulous. Xerostomia was reported by 53% of the edentulous and 43% of the dentate. The average Corah Dental Anxiety Scale score was 8.72 (SD 3.8). Prevalence of dental anxiety was 15.6%. Two-thirds needed dental treatment.


Caries experience was lower than that reported in other studies. Reported barriers to use of dental services were long waiting times, lack of perceived dental need and costs.

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