This study investigated the role of self‐perceived oral health and normative need on dental services utilization by US adults aged ≥30 years from the 2011‐2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Data on 5,806 dentate adult NHANES participants were analyzed. Key independent variables were self‐perceived oral health and normative need assessed by a dentist. The dependent variable was dental visit within the past 12 months. Select sociodemographic variables were adjusted for in logistic regression models using SAS survey procedures.
Overall, 33.8 percent of adults did not have a dental visit in the past 12 months. About 26.9 percent reported they were unsatisfied with their oral health and 53.4 percent needed to seek care. Individuals unsatisfied with their oral health were less likely to have a dental visit in the past 12 months compared to those who were satisfied with their oral health (57 versus 25 percent). Overall, participants who were unsatisfied with their oral health received a recommendation to seek care. These participants had more normative needs and were less likely to have a dental visit in the past 12 months; however, this relationship varied by race/ethnicity. For Asian‐Americans, there was no association between those unsatisfied with their oral health and dental visits. Also, there was no association across all race/ethnicities between number of teeth present and dental visits.
Both self‐perceived oral health and normative need are associated with dental utilization. Results will contribute to health policy discussions and program development that aim to improve oral health status in the United States.