Appropriate dental care is an important part of maintaining good oral health. We examined the relationship between socioeconomic status, neighbourhood deprivation levels and older people's dental service use.Methods
We used logistic regression analysis to assess the relationship between self-reported dental service use and neighbourhood deprivation, adjusting for individual socioeconomic and health factors, in individuals aged 65+ in the 2005 Health Survey for England (n=4240).Results
Among dentulous respondents, 69.9% reported attending for regular check-ups, 6.2% occasional check-ups, 18.4% only saw a dentist when in trouble and 5.6% never went to a dentist. In our adjusted model age, sex, region, education level, occupational social class, self-reported health and smoking status, but not degree of urbanization, were associated with use of dental services. Following adjustment for these other factors those living in the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods, compared with those in the least deprived, had a relative risk ratio of 2.25 (95% confidence interval 1.59–3.17) of using dental services only when symptomatic, rather than going for regular or occasional check-ups. When alternative outcomes of reporting having recently seen a doctor or been a hospital inpatient were assessed these deprivation-related patterns in service use were not evident.Conclusion
Levels of neighbourhood deprivation are associated with the use of dental services by older people. Action is needed to ensure older people in deprived communities access appropriate and comprehensive dental services.