Demographic, oral health status and social changes are leading to a greater proportion of older adults retaining their natural  teeth. However, up to two-thirds of older adults are financially disadvantaged, which may create affordability issues in accessing timely and appropriate dental care.

Denture wearers reported higher levels of avoidance of some foods than persons with natural teeth only. Higher levels of extractions and denture services among card-holders may contribute to inequality of oral health between card-holders and non-card-holders.

Patterns of inter-age-group variation showed:

  • higher  levels  of  complete  tooth  loss  with increasing age;
  • lower levels of dental insurance with increasing age; and
  • among  non-card-holders, increasing  age  was associated with a  igher  percentage  aking dental visits in the previous 12 months and lower levels of visiting for a problem.

Card-holders were substantially disadvantaged in all measures of oral health and access to services, including:

  • higher rates of edentulism;
  • longer time since last dental visit;
  • problem-oriented dental visiting patterns;
  • low levels of eligible older adults receiving dental care at public clinics and dental hospitals;
  • greater difficulty paying a $100 dental bill;
  • lower levels of dental insurance; and
  • higher levels of  extractions  in  the  previous 12 months.

These findings indicated barriers in the use of dental services, including the receipt of problem-oriented care and the pattern of services received.